Somebody needs to give Congressional Republicans a lesson in accounting. Newsflash guys, a balance sheet has two sides, just like your warped brains.
If the US Department of the Treasury could get a nickle every time a conservative governor or legislator says, “We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” then we wouldn’t have any problems.
Of course we have a revenue problem. The economy fell off a cliff, which it seems to do once every decade, and it's coming back, however slowly.
Less cash changing hands means less taxation and fewer resources for the government, the church, the grocer and Bill Gates, who by the way didn’t become a billionaire by not spending money. As the tired cliche goes, it takes greenbacks to make greenbacks.
And while I'm not saying government is in the business of making money, it is in the business of providing goods and services in return for all these bloody taxes and fees we pay.
The trick is not wasting the people’s hard earned tax money by letting Mr. Gates only pay social security taxes on the first $125,000 he makes every year or failing to means test Medicare or subsidizing oil exploration in the gulf. Why can't I pay social security taxes on less than 1 percent of my annual income?
But the revenue problem is only half the headache. The other half has been caused by spending, or more accurately, deficit spending on wars and bailouts and millionaire tax breaks.
There are solutions out there to fix all of these problems, and the one that balances both sides of the budget equation, addressing revenue and spending, is the path to salvation. Many have come to this conclusion, but it hasn't yielded any meaningful legislation.
Unfortunately, I don’t want my taxes raised and neither does anyone else. But, I could stomach paying a little more if I knew Wall Street, Big Pharma, Big Oil and Unions (the list of special interest groups bribing our politicians is much to long to put here) wasn’t being subsidized by Middle America in the form of billions upon billions in corporate welfare each year. Especially since a percentage of those billions is funneled back into the political process to continue business as usual.
And by business as usual, I mean the government and the corporations slowly melding together to enslave us all, of course. The illusion of choice is not freedom.
But all those special interests employ millions of people, right? And if we take away their welfare, they won’t survive. And people will lose their jobs. And it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs, right?
Please. The government sets the rules and everyone has to play by them. Seat belts didn’t bankrupt the auto industry and health care reform won’t bankrupt doctors and insurance companies. It may even save taxpayers money and lead to a healthier populace.
This is America — adapt, innovate and compete.
But that’s not what folks like Governor Rick Scott are saying. He wants to phase out the state’s corporate income tax, which many small businesses don’t pay in the first place. He says this will attract companies to the state that will hire Floridians. Remember jobs, jobs, jobs.
Don’t make me laugh Mr. Scott. Florida is among the top 10 friendliest states in the country in which to do business, and we have year-round sunshine, beaches and recreational opportunities galore. Yet, Florida has a higher unemployment rate than the national average.
What we don’t have is a highly-educated, highly-skilled workforce, which is why we don’t have a highly-diversified economy, particularly in North Florida.
When a company is looking to expand in the region, they want to know they can hire educated, healthy and productive — in a word, happy — employees to carry their profits onward and upward.
Cutting K-12 education, raising college tuition, and gutting health care programs for the elderly, the sick and the poor, all while pushing for fewer environmental safeguards and against national health care reforms, will not make a business-friendly state more business-friendly.
It will do the opposite, but that’s what the Republican controlled legislature is doing right now. My only solace is that as tax receipts rebound over the next few years while the economy starts its inevitable march toward the next boom (and later bust), the revenue problem will get smaller, as will the spending problem.
Because, after all, they are connected.