Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Convergence of Sources on the Economy

Yes, that is a very boring blog post title but it's late, I'm tired, and it's the best I can do. Today a number of resources on the same topic came across my screens or table. They all tie together nicely. A more talented writer would be able to write a nice analytical post that covers all the points. But if you want something done that well you'll have to buy a paper or read media sources with full time staff. As a hobbyist this is the best I can do.

We all know that the rationale for cutting government spending, you know, all that money we're wasting on teachers, health care for the poor and middle class, and social services, is that the government is broke. One good question, as posed by E. J. Dionne, Jr. in the Washington Post on Monday, is "What if we're not broke?" One excerpt:

In both cases [remarks by John Boehner and Scott Walker], the fiscal issues are just an excuse for ideologically driven policies to lower taxes on well-off people and business while reducing government programs. Yet only occasionally do journalists step back to ask: Are these guys telling the truth?

The admirable Web site examined Walker's claim in detail and concluded flatly it was "false."

Donna Cooper at the Center for American Progress created a visual aid, a chart, to demonstrate the trade-offs and the choices we have made. Take a look at "Infographic: Tax Breaks vs. Budget Cuts."

Paul Breer and Kevin Donohoe at Think Progress write something similar, with a local focus in "REPORT: In 12 States, GOP Plans To Slash Corporate Taxes While Increasing Burden on Working Families " Pennsylvania is one of the states on their list. Here's an excerpt from the Pennsylvania section:
Gov. Tom Corbett (R) presented a budget last week that would cut taxes for corporations, while freezing teacher salaries, cutting dental care for Medicaid recipients, and eliminating more than half of the state’s universities.

State Rep Mike Sturla takes one Pennsylvania spending items and gives his perspective on the choices made. Read his Commonwealth Common Sense blog post, "Pouring salt in the wound," (3/16). The short version:
Less than a month after adultBasic was terminated funding that would have gone to help pay for the health care program for working Pennsylvanians, instead was diverted to another fund, one run by the governor to dole out loans to business friends.

Joseph N. DiStefano's "PhillyDeals" column in the Inquirer often has good political news and today is no exception. He writes about the state's natural gas industry, which is not taxed, comparing the oil and gas industry here with that in Texas, and also comparing the real estate environment in Houston with Philadelphia's. The column also discusses the current US tax rates which are the lowest since 1950, according to Tom Block, whose father founded H&R Bloch. DiStefano is very good at putting things in perspective.

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