Thursday, January 22, 2009

Someone Needs to Ask Mike Cox the Hard Questions

Another day, another op-ed from a Michigan Republican who thinks that we can simply cut taxes and everything will magically be fixed, all our problems solved by the philosophy that got us into this trouble in the first place. Cox claims that we have a budget surplus and that we should refund it - the same trick that was tried by House Republicans last year that was shown to be erroneous and quickly dismissed from consideration. That won't stop Mike from pulling it out again though, proving that Cox is as clueless as he is unoriginal.

In an interview Wednesday, the attorney general said state policymakers will never make the tough choices to deal with the state's longstanding structural budget problems as long as surplus money is available.

"I think tax rebates and cuts are effective ways to stimulate the economy," said Cox, who is seeking the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Cox said he hasn't hammered out details of how a rebate might work or how much an individual taxpayer might receive.

No, Mike doesn't hammer out the details in his fantasy scenario, and that is the problem. He wants to give back this budget "surplus", while every. single. lawmaker. from the governor on down is telling us that we are already looking at drastic cuts to cover a looming $1.4 billion budget deficit for 2010. Cox even grabs the old DeRoche quote about the state needing to go "on a diet" - an oldie but a goodie that didn't fly the first time around and only shows that there is nothing new in this "plan" of his.

If you need further proof that Mike is more than just a few cards short of the deck here - even ever-reliable rightwing loon Matt Marsden notes that he is way off-base.

"With all due respect to the attorney general, to suggest we have a surplus to return to taxpayers is not accurate," said Matt Marsden, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester.

"It would be great if we could supply some relief. That money is needed to draw down deficits (in 2009 and 2010) so we might right the economic ship long-term."

Enough. From here on out, any Bush Republican who suggests that the answer is "cut taxes", should also be made to put up the corresponding budget cuts to pay for that plan. Until they do, they are just wasting our time and should be laughed off the stage.

Let's hear the consequences of your idea, Mr. Cox. How many prisons do you want to close? We might have to do that as it stands. Going to stop revenue sharing to cities so local officials will be forced to raise taxes to maintain police and firefighters? Want to cut higher education spending and watch tuition go through the roof, putting college out of reach for Michigan students? Kick everyone off of Medicaid so the burden falls on doctors and hospitals, who will raise the rates charged to private insurance? Cuts to our own third-rail issue, K-12 funding?

Tell us. Tell us where the cuts should come. Tell us how you would sell your "back-door" tax increases to the public in a time when they are increasingly looking to government for help. Tell us how you would deal with the outcry from mayors, educators, police and public safety officials, and health care providers when they demand for you to come up with the answers to mountain of problems you would lay at their feet.

Until then, you are simply passing the buck on making those "hard choices" yourself, the same thing you so indignantly accuse the legislature and the governor of doing.

This is going to be bad enough as it is. "Dig faster and deeper and make others clean up the mess" is not the answer.