The sound of belts tightening
Republicans retook the House and gained control of several state legislatures and governorships in November’s mid-term election. During the campaign, many conservative candidates ran on a platform of reducing government spending and reversing some decisions made under the Democrats, such as health care reform.
American City & County asked the readers of its weekly e-mail newsletter what effect this political shift would have on federal and state legislation that affects cities and counties. Below are some of the responses.
“Now that the dust is settling, the Congress and president should get to the job of working together, not posturing and doing the peoples’ business. Get the deficit reduction plan going, reign in military spending, focus on jobs and real economic recovery, even if it’s a somewhat jobless one, and get national health care reform ironed out and moving forward. Don’t fall back into Tea Party semantics of howling at the president and Washington and not presenting any real solutions and remember that the [Bush administration] was at the root of most of our military and economic mess, and the failure of Bush tax cuts to promote anything but corporate greed and profits should not be revisited. Boehner, Reid and Obama should form an alliance to get this country back on course, not mired in political deadlock, and remember they are there to improve the country and its standing as a world power and economic force. Partisan politics is what the voters most assuredly do not want in 2011/12. Real problems must be addressed and long term solutions put in motion in as nonpartisan a manner as Washington can muster.”
— Jay Gsell, county manager, Genesee County, N.Y.
“Given Republican’s propensity for trickle-down economics, it will mean more tax-breaks for big corporations and the wealthy. This will mean less revenue for governments and more regressive taxation of the poor and middle class in a time when they need government services the most. Republicans will use the rhetorical smoke-screen of job creation to pass a host of narrow-interest legislation aimed more at advancing their ideology than benefitting the welfare of average citizens.
A broad consensus of economists and the [Congressional Budget Office] believe that tax breaks for wealthy, corporate filers have substantially less of a stimulative effect on job creation than direct investments by government. Public works projects are much needed and have a multiplier effect on the general economy. Unfortunately, Republican tax policies and deep spending cuts by state legislatures will create more unfunded mandates for counties and cities.”
— Bill Skelton, public information coordinator, Polk County, Fla., Transportation Division
“I suspect we may well see at least two consequences generated by the 2010 election. [First,] the federal government will continue to ‘trickle down’ the costs of various mandated programs to the states, and therefore counties and towns. Funding for special education is just one example of a federal mandate that was constantly underfunded . . . Highways, etc. will be the next ‘victims’. [Second,] the impact of the ‘Tea Party philosophy’ may well ‘trickle down’ to the local and county levels, with citizens finally demanding elected officials REALLY ‘sharpen their pencils’, particularly when it comes to government employees’ (and teachers’) salaries and benefits. I am not a Tea Party member, but consider myself to be fiscally conservative and moderately liberal on social issues.”
— Gilbert Chapman, former Richmond, Vt., selectman, York, Pa.