Saturday, June 23, 2012

Government is Doing Its Best to Increase Unemployment – And You Thought They Were on Your Side

Old Cartoon Character Pogo Was Right - We Have Met the Enemy and They is Us

Thanks to VM for Remembering Pogo

Standard and widely accepted economic policy is that in times of recession it is government policy which brings the economy out of the downward spiral.  This recession is different.  Government policy, particularly at the state and local level is making things worse.

In California this is due to the Republicans insisting on no new taxes to fund a huge budget gap, as is the case in other state and local government units.

In California, the governor is threatening to eliminate 15,000 state jobs. When school begins in Cleveland this fall, more than 500 teachers probably will be out of work. And in Trenton — which has already cut a third of its police force, hundreds of school district employees and at least 150 other public workers — the only way the city will forestall the loss of 60 more firefighters is if a federal grant comes through.

And no that grant will probably not come through.  Mitt Romney is leading the Republicans and he says we have enough police, fire fighters and teachers.

Public workers became a point of contention in the presidential campaign recently when Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, criticized President Obama for wanting to increase the number of government employees through stimulus measures. “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers,” Mr. Romney said, adding: “It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

The problem is first of all that while state and local finances have recovered some, they have not recovered enough.

So while the federal government has grown a little since the recession, and many states have recently begun to add a few jobs, local governments are making new cuts that outweigh those gains. More than a quarter of municipal governments are planning layoffs this year, according to a survey by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence. They are being squeezed not only by declining federal and state support, but by their devastated property tax base.

And while Mr. Obama included large payments to state and local government in 2009 to prevent layoffs, that program has run out and Republicans, ever eager to prevent any economic success will not even think about a new program to help local government.  That might help re-elect Mr. Obama.

Conservatives have argued that the government was bloated after a hiring surge during the housing boom and is now returning to a more appropriate size. Michael D. Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, criticized the president’s budget proposal to give states an additional $30 billion for teachers, police officers and firefighters. “Those new public sector jobs must be paid for with more debt and taxes borne by the private sector,” he wrote.

And besides everyone knows that only private sector employees do any real work.  Public sector workers just sit around and teach, and protect and help the young, the poor, the elderly and the ailing.  You know, the people who don’t deserve any help.

But those with disappearing jobs say that the effects are not just economic — they mean longer response times to fires, larger class sizes, and in some cases lawsuits when short-staffed agencies are unable to provide the required services.

Those public employees who provide vital services just don’t understand.  The highest priority a state or local government can have is creating and preserving tax cuts for the very wealthy.  There can be no higher calling.

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