February 13, 2014

BALANCED BUDGETS ARE JUST A MATTER OF HYGIENE:

HAS SCOTT WALKER REALLY TURNED AROUND WISCONSIN? (Aaron M. Renn, 02/13/2014, NEW GEOGRAPHY)

I find these articles revealing because they show how the Tea Party mindset has affected the definition of success in Republican circles generally. Why has Scott Walker been a success in their view? Because Wisconsin's state government is financially healthy. The actual people of Wisconsin take a back seat to that. A friend of mine in Indiana summed up the mindset when she noted that many people today equate the financial health of government with the well-being of the people in the state.

This I think is the Tea Party mindset writ large. [...]


I actually support many of Scott Walker's reforms. Public sector unions clearly need to be reigned in or even eliminated as they are a huge barrier to rational fiscal management and effective service delivery in addition to being an inherently corrupting political force. Items like allowing unions to force localities to buy health insurance through union affiliated firms at inflated rate were clearly abusive.

It's also early to judge, and this is monthly data that is fairly volatile, even though it's seasonably adjusted and with a same month comparison. There just isn't that much other data available.

What I object to is declaring victory when the budget is balanced. The attitude exposed by this is profoundly revealing and shows everything that's wrong with Tea Party type thinking. It's obvious that people claiming Wisconsin has thrived under Walker didn't even take a cursory look at the actual economic performance of the state.

Wisconsin balanced its budget? Big deal. You're supposed to balance the budget. That's just doing your job. It shows how far we've come that you can receive plaudits simply for meeting what should have been the baseline expectation.

The charts above should also cause a reconsideration of the notion that government finances are the primary determinant of business climate and economic growth. There are states on both the left and right of that issue that are both thriving and struggling. Part of it is that states have limited power in the modern economy. There's only a limited amount they can do to make things better, whereas they can definitely screw it up.
Posted by at February 13, 2014 2:46 PM
  
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