Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Republican Tax Cuts Force Strickland Administration to Seek Concessions from State Workers

On January 17, 2009, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an article about the Strickland Administration seeking concessions from state workers that are represented by unions. The article detailed that the Administration was seeking a 5% pay cut, a 35 hour work week, and non-paid holidays. The article points out that the unions want to see what happens with the Federal stimulus package before committing to this proposal. What is significant, though, is that they aren't rejecting it out of hand.

We have two thoughts about this proposal, which, for the record, we don't like, but understand that it may need to be done. The first thought is that only an Administration with ties to labor unions could make this proposal and have any chance of it being accepted by state employee unions.

The reason why is that a Republican administration, say like the Bob Taft Administration, would have no credibility with state workers. It would be seen by the unions as an attempt to use the state's budget problems as a way to hurt unions. Since the Strickland Administration has credibility with unions as being supportive of their aims, this idea won't be seen as having a hidden agenda.

Our second thought is that this is another example of Republican tax breaks helping the rich while screwing workers. Time and time again Republicans pass tax breaks because they will supposedly help grow the economy. Jonathon Chiat
refers to this as "The Big Con" in one of his books. Why is it a big con? Because there is no evidence that cutting taxes grows the economy. There is, however, plenty of evidence that cutting taxes leads to government deficits and cutting government programs.

So, in Ohio, in 2005, the Republican General Assembly and Governor Bob "I don't have a clue" Taft team up to pass a 20% tax cut spread over several years. This leads to huge shortfalls in the state's revenues, just in time for the Bush Depression, or, to be fair, perhaps, the Bush Great Recession, when demand for government programs increases substantially.

The bottom line: Like the state unions we see the necessity for what the Strickland Administration is doing, but we don't have to like it.

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