Conventional wisdom – you know, those clichés that animate corporate media analysis – has it that you can’t raise taxes in tough times when revenues shrink, so you must cut spending in order to balance your budget. Republicans, as authors and seminal propagators of these clichés, are firm about this tenet. Consequently, Governor Nixon, a realist faced with a majority Republican legislature, is going about the business of “fixing” our state budget problems by slashing essential spending – while the legislature plans an orgy of tax cutting that is sure to bring a smile to the faces of their I-got-mine-but-I-want-more constituency.
Meanwhile, everybody agrees that the issue is jobs, but nobody seems to notice that the budget cuts that are being made will mean lots of lost jobs – real tangible jobs, lost right now while we are struggling hardest to keep our heads above water. To be precise, Mark Zandi of Moody.com estimates that state budget cuts will cost the U.S. 900,000 jobs unless more stimulus funds reach the states in time.
The proposed tax cuts, on the other hand, might or might not mean a few more jobs sometime in the future. Objective data does not really confirm that lowering tax rates necessarily leads to job creation. As a case in point, Missouri has seen mediocre job growth over the last decade when compared with many states with higher taxes.
Still our Missouri Republicans insist dragging us all, as Zaid Jilani at Think Progress puts it, down:
… the path of the “deficit peacocks,” who demand cutting social spending while ruling out tax increases on those who have benefited immensely from years of conservative policies.
This choice has not been universal; Jilani describes states such as Oregon and Wisconsin where progressive policymakers have decided that:
… at a time when the tax burden between the wealthy and the middle class is “narrower than at any time in modern history” …[to] look for ways to responsibly raise revenues while protecting their states’ spending on vital programs.
Looks like we will get another chance to test Keynesian solutions against “free market” business giveaways – and one can only shudder when thinking about how, if the tax cutting mentality continues to prevail, the Missouri misery index will almost surely soar in the coming months.