The name Geoff Michel won’t mean much to my many national and international followers, Hell, little Geoff won’t mean much to my local followers either. But read along anyway because he is a typical GOP simpleton and we can learn from him.
Geoff Michel is a Minnesota State Senator and he just appeared on WCCO-TV with Esme Murphy to defend a $1 billion in cuts in legislation now going through the state legislature now. It includes efficiencies like less toilet paper and soap for prisoners. Republicans are geniuses.
Michel defended these cuts based on the same folksy cliches that are hardwired in the brains of conservatives.
Michel reminded us that families are cutting back in tough times. Yes. But most put in extra effort and look for additional revenues. They don’t stubbornly keep cutting until they are broke and homeless.
Conservatives also attack people for not saving and not having a plan ready for hard times. Why doesn’t their false government-as-household analogy apply on this account? When times are good we give tax rebates and cuts. By that logic, when times are bad shouldn’t we raise taxes? No…people see why that isn’t the way to go, but in the ideologically driven and backward logic of conservativism, it shouldn’t it follow that if we cut taxes in good times, we raise them in bad? No, of course not because Republicans refuse to support responsible tax policy.
The reality is we have had funding problems — versus spending problems — that have been in place for decades. Government has been deliberately underfunded for years. Let’s not forget the Starve the Beast strategy embraced by conservatives. By underfunding government programs, the argument for cutting government was more easily made. As a result when bad times came there was very little to give.
On the conservative side, ideology and opinions matter more than facts. Economic history does not line up with conservative arguments very well. Large government does not correlate with economic decline. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. Just look at what 30 years of conservative principles have done to our economy. Compare the last 30 with the previous 30.
More frustrating than the predictable historic and economic ignorance from the right is the less-than-truthful “tax cut.” What Minnesota plans to do is what it started to do under the failed leadership of self-important Tim Pawlenty. Taxes didn’t get cut, they got transferred.
In the Minnesota Senate’s proposal, $487 million in state aid to local government will get cut. Unless people in these local governments want to do without services like roads, police, fire, and other essential services, they will have to pay for them locally. Bake sales won’t cut. Taxes will need to go up.
Geoff Michel lives in a district that has a strong tax base. His neighborhood won’t be threatened by poor schools and less public safety. And Geoff Michel does not care.
This is awfully short-sighted on Geoff’s part. If the quality of life in the state deteriorates, the economic opportunities that Geoff claims to value as the solution to our fiscal crises won’t exist. (Every time I hear someone offer tax cuts as the solution to economic growth, especially in this demand-starved economy, their credibility is lost. Geoff Michel has no credibility. But then…he is a modern day conservative.)
We are not living in the 1950s. The world and the economy have changed. We compete on a global market and we are losing, especially in the labor market. We need to develop modern competitive advantages. The private sector is not investing in these advantages here, they are doing so in other parts of the world. Minnesota is not competing with South Dakota for work, we are competing with China and India…competition that is funded by American investors and corporations. Tax cuts, especially tax cuts to businesses and people who don’t need them to survive the recession, go to investments that increasingly go overseas. That is not a good solution.
State governments are different than the federal government. We cannot deficit spend, for example, and don’t have the monetary tools available to the federal reserve. There are many differences. But the mindset that less is more is killing us. A unified effort to rebuild this country by supporting strong federal stimulus would get money flowing in the economy again. That’s where we need to look in the short run.
In the long run we need to think about what we are doing to our country. The American Dream attracted talent and investment from all around the world. People came for our great schools and universities. Business tapped into the tremendous talent and security of our workers. People stayed in this country because we invested in a high standard of living that opened many doors into the future. We didn’t have the tar paper shack mentality of today’s conservatives. We understood the value of investment.
Guys like Geoff Michel…well, I’m sorry. Just another misguided conservative who hasn’t proposed a thoughtful or innovative idea that reflects the realities of today’s economy and our place in it. We need better people to public office. We need to support better ideas and real plans. It is that simple.
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