Thursday, August 9, 2012

Politics and Plumbers

Mitt Romney says that he is going to cut our federal taxes.  Yoohoo!  Who doesn’t want lower taxes?
Mitt Romney says he is going to cut wasteful federal spending and reduce our deficit.  Yipee!  Who doesn’t want to cut wasteful spending?
Mitt Romney says he is going to balance the budget. Woohoo!  Who doesn’t want a balanced budget?
Break out the party hats and champagne…Mitt Romney has the answers!!!
There is an old adage in the plumbing business. It says simply that: (please forgive us) “shit runs down hill.”  And when you examine what is happening on the state level you will see that this adage holds true in government as well. 
Many state governments are heavily dependent on federal funding to stay afloat.  As federal funds diminish, state governments are forced to take on their own cost cutting measures in order to survive.  Naturally this means there is less money to pass down to the local communities.  Local cities and municipalities rely on these funds to provide basic services like fire and police.
Dale Butland, Communications Director for Innovation Ohio, illustrates how this trickledown theory ultimately affects the taxpayer in his home state.
Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich is a fervent disciple of the Romney economic theory.  He has imposed a host of austerity measures designed to cut taxes and funding while balancing the state budget.  The Kasich two year budget cut school funding by $1,8 billion and the Ohio Local Government Fund…which Ohio cities, towns and municipalities use to pay for things like police, fire, parks and emergency response…by 50%.  He also repealed the estate tax (which applied only to Ohio’s richest 7%) which took another $230 million from local governments in 2010 alone.  These cuts proved to be devastating for schools and local communities.  The only way local communities could survive was to raise local taxes.  So while Kasich, like Romney, boasts about balancing his budget without raising taxes the reality is that he has simply passed the burden on to the local taxpayers.  He poses as the responsible fiscal hero while local mayors and county commissioners shoulder the blame for the inevitable tax increases.
Butland cites Shaker Heights, Ohio; a community just outside of Cleveland as an example of how this toxic economic strategy flows downhill.
Shaker Heights was facing a $6 million dollar reduction in state funding.  The mayor did everything Kasich said he should do.  He renegotiated labor agreements, froze wages, tripled employee contributions for health insurance, outsourced and consolidated services and eliminated jobs, including 10 police officers and 14 firefighters.  Nevertheless he was still forced to ask tax payers to approve a 0.5% tax increase.
Governor Kasich boasts that as a result of his policies Ohio now has a surplus of $550 million dollars.  Will he return any of the money to the local communities who are struggling to survive?  Nope!  Kasich intends to use the surplus to offset another round of tax cuts for corporations and job creators.
These are the very real consequences of the Republican economic theory; consequences that will only become more dramatic if Romney is allowed to fully implement his ideas.  Because the simple fact is these basic services aren’t free.  Somebody has to pay for them.  The question is who.
So when you hear Mitt Romney talk about balancing the budget by cutting spending and lowering taxes… just remember that he is not taking on the burden that these cuts will bring.  He is simply passing the burden down to you.  Because in the world of government, just like the world of plumbing, the nasty stuff always flows downhill.         


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