Here’s what happened recently in California. First, some basics: in order for taxes to be increased in California the citizens of the state have to vote. Without support, the government cannot simply raise taxes.
Recently, five propositions came up for raising taxes in California to help cover the costs of that state’s ridiculous budget problems. All five were shot down with something close to a two-to-one margin. The state government wanted more money, and the people refused to give it to them. Their answer? Cut spending, balance the budget, and trim waste. For Californians, the reasoning was obvious: why should they foot the bill for a government that refuses to spend within its means?
For Americans, this kind of reasoning ought to be fairly familiar to us as well. After all, it isn’t just the Californian government that has these problems. As a nation, we too are constantly being told by our government that they need more money, that they have to increase taxes, or that they are planning to increase debt. Unlike in California, however, the Federal Government is not required to get permission from the nation’s citizenry to change its economic plan.
We hope that our government is looking to California as an example of how it should proceed with its own budget. We may not be Californians, but my bet is that there are a lot of people in this country who want the government to get rid of its wasteful spending and to fix its own economic troubles before coming to us looking for more money. Californians get a vote, we don’t – but could we vote, I think we would have voted the same as they did.
Critics will, of course, argue that the last thing we should be doing during a recession is cutting spending, but no one is really asking for that. We’re asking that the government get more efficient with its money. If it does this — if it can figure out how to cut all the waste then money can spend in areas where our country will get a much better return on its investment (e.g. a Manhattan Project for Energy Independence). To do this, though, the government is going to have to face some troublesome problems. It has been a long time since anyone expected the federal government to clean house. But if California can do it, why not the rest of the country? Its time for President Obama follow their example.