Morning Fizz

Both Editorials are So 2010

By Morning Fizz December 27, 2010

State house and senate Democrats seem pretty excited about two New York Times editorials that have run in the last 48 hours—at least judging from the Facebook links Fizz is seeing. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-3, Spokane) "likes" this ... state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne, Ballard, Magnolia) "likes" that.

We're not sure why the Democrats are link-happy about these pieces, though. The New York Times is a beat behind with its prescriptions. Both editorials are so 2010. For Washington State anyway.

Yesterday, the NYT editorial page published this one: "The Looming Crisis in the States," which, noting the $140 billion shortfall states face over all, succinctly lays out the problem, "The most immediate cause of the states’ problems is the decline in tax revenue caused by the downturn, just as the demand for services has increased."

The other is a column by NYT columnist Thomas Friedman who says:
In my book, the leaders who will deserve praise in this new era are those who develop a hybrid politics that persuades a majority of voters to cut where we must so we can invest where we must. To survive in the 21st century, America can no longer afford a politics of irresponsible profligacy. But to thrive in the 21st century — to invest in education, infrastructure and innovation — America cannot afford a politics of mindless austerity either.

Both editorials offer a solution. The first one calls for tax increases, specifically, tax increases on the rich:
Many governors claim tax increases are ill-advised during a recession, but more experienced economists say it is better to raise taxes on the rich than to lay off workers and cut spending, in effect offsetting Washington’s attempts at stimulus. The federal government missed a chance to begin to act rationally about its long-term deficit by giving away the store to the rich in the tax deal. States should not make the same mistake.

And Friedman uses the example of "pay-as-you-go-progressive" mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed, where Reed cut pensions:
Then Reed tackled the city’s biggest problem: runaway pensions, which were eating up 20 percent of tax revenues and are rising.

Here's the problem: We have tried both of these things already. I-1098, a tax on the rich, was rejected by voters (handily, 64.15 to 35.85) in 2010. And Gov. Chris Gregoire has already gone after state employee pensions.

Sorry New York smarties. Been there. Done that (kinda). And we're still facing devastating cuts to tackle the $4.6 billion shortfall.

Locally, the Tacoma News Tribune points to another solution—end corporate tax breaks. We reported on the same option earlier this month, but were reminded that Tim Eyman's voter-approved two-thirds-to-raise-taxes rule (November's 1053) comes into play; ending tax loopholes is the same thing as raising taxes.

The TNT is reporting on something bolder, though. Putting corporate tax breaks to a public vote. Hmmm. It's an idea that may endear the initiative process to liberals.

By the way, sorry Fizz is so late today. We're on a little bit of a holiday schedule here. The site's going to be a little slow this week—we're locked down doing some planning for 2011.

We will be on KUOW today around noon, though—going on The Conversation to discuss the year in review.

Also, you're invited to Liberty Bar on 15th on Capitol Hill this Thursday at 7 pm. (517 15th Ave. E.) A bunch of Seattle's delegation in Olympia will be on hand to talk about the upcoming legislative session.
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