Reason Magazine’s FaceBook page posted this article, discussing the reasons for Texas’ current budget short-fall. Paul Krugman used the state as an example of how cutting taxes did not raise revenues. Reason shoots back that, no, the problem is not that they’re cutting taxes, but that they’re spending too much money:
It would be opportunistic to dismiss Texas as a big government failure now, after using it as a model of fiscal restraint, but don’t these numbers cause the same problem for the Krugmanites? From what little I know of Texas geography (isn’t it next to that countryCantinflas came from?), I gather Austin is less in thrall to “the complete dominance of conservative ideology” than the rest of the state. Texas contains multitudes. Could it be the nightmare of austerity Krugman claims, and also a nightmare of public profligacy the spending figures indicate? Can Razzles be a candy and a gum?
This gets at the heart of a problem Conservatives have explaining their way around the Bush Administration, as well. Namely, that cutting taxes and spending exhorbitantly do not seem to be separate practices, but invariably and demonstrably linked halves of an inseparable whole.
In my gut, I do not believe Rick Perry lied to me or to his constituency. I don’t believe George Bush did, either. I don’t believe that all those Republicans who were elected on a platform of reducing the government and lowering taxes got together in a cabal and discussed how best to screw the American people by cutting taxes… and raising spending. Ronald Reagan, that soothsayer of old, had a similar problem.
I think the problem may be this simple: if you don’t change the oil in your car, sooner or later, you’re going to have to rebuild the engine. Responsibility is an expensive thing. And when you try to cheap out on every little thing – and we know George Bush’s administration did just that – you end up spending more to fix the shit you broke. It also does not help that, in the case of state budgets, when the Federal government does not meet its obligation to help pay for things like Medicare, the state has no choice but to pony up the balance.
None of this is to say that Texas, like New York, couldn’t stand a bit of restructuring in the way it does business. I’ll betcha there’s lots of money getting hidden under desks all over the state, just as it appears happens here in New York. But let’s not dance around and pretend that there is some conveniently non-threatening excuse for a predictable pattern.