Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Bipartisan March to Fiscal Madness



In today’s polarized world, it takes a Republican who is no longer an active political player to talk sensibly and meaningfully about our country’s fiscal situation. Given the utter nonsense issuing from the likes of another furloughed pol like Newt Gingrich, maybe it also takes a Republican who always was a bit of a contrarian, one known to choose the truth over the party line.


The person to whom I am referring is David A. Stockman, writer of a Sunday Op-Ed article in the New York Times with the same title as this post. Stockman is not someone easily dismissed by the likes of Paul Ryan, John Boehner or Eric Cantor--(who seems attached to Boehner like some Siamese twin whenever the House Speaker steps up to a microphone)--no matter how much these Republicans may want to reject or ignore him. Stockman was a U.S. Representative (R, MI) for three terms until President Reagan appointed him Director of the Office of Management and Budget (1981-1985), and he was a major player in the fiscal debates during this period, overseeing the passage of the Reagan budget.


Although a committed supply-sider, Stockman resigned from the OMB in 1985 because, as I hinted in my introduction, he refused to toe the Republican line. Even today, he takes positions that most Republicans wouldn’t dare to take. For example, in October of 2010 he stated that extending the Bush tax cuts is “rank demagoguery. We should call it for what it is....to stand before the public and rub raw this anti-tax sentiment, the Republican Party, as much as it pains me to say, should be ashamed of themselves.”


In this Sunday’s Op-Ed piece, Stockman opens with these words: “It is obvious that the nation’s desperate fiscal condition requires higher taxes on the middle class, not just the richest 2 percent.” I suspect that many Americans would agree with this statement, as I do, even though it calls for tax increases not only on the wealthiest of us but also on the middle class (to which I am proud to belong). But we don’t hear any Republicans embracing this “heresy” (nor too many Democrats, unfortunately).


Further on, Stockman says this of the Republican plan: “Trapped between the religion of low taxes and the reality of huge deficits, the Ryan plan appears to be an attack on the poor in order to coddle the rich.” This, of course, is what the Democrats are saying, as they gleefully rub their hands in anticipation of how that will go down with the American public.


As he moves towards his conclusions, Stockman pulls the curtain back from the Ryan plan as if he were Toto revealing the Wizard of Oz for the charlatan that he was: “By 2014, for example, the Ryan plan does not save a dime from the $2.2 trillion baseline for Social Security, Medicare and national security spending. Then it extends all the Bush tax cuts at a cost of $350 billion while instructing the states to reduce spending for the poor by $100 billion and the Congress to slice domestic discretionary spending by 25 percent. That toxic brew is likely to find few takers — even at a Mad Hatter’s tea party.”


Now, I can’t quite end here, since Stockman also has an important criticism of the Obama plan. He says that Obama, by only criticizing the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% of taxpayers, is not addressing the deficit as much as he is “playing the class-war card” and siding with the middle class over the wealthy. I agree with him. Obama simply is taking the easy way out and doesn’t have the courage to embrace tax increases for the middle class, even though this also needs to happen.


But then, the American public has been exposed to thirty years of Republican indoctrination that says all tax increases are anathema, and it is the rare politician who dares to counter this insane position. Unfortunately, Obama seems not to be that rare politician.


Therefore, as Stockman concludes, “we are about to descend into class war because the Obama plan picks on the rich when it should be pushing tax increases for all, while the Ryan plan attacks the poor when it should be addressing middle-class entitlements and defense.”


Regrettably, the Republicans have whipped themselves into such a lather about Obama over the past two years that they can’t listen to him about, nor work with him over, anything. But can't they listen to one of their own, especially someone as highly respected as David A. Stockman?   Or, couldn't they deign to listen to our Nobel-winning economist, Paul Krugman, who last month stated much the same thing as Stockman: “I believe that we will need modestly higher taxes on the middle class as well as the rich to pay for the kind of society we want.”   Or, are they merrily taking us all down the road to “class warfare” as well as fiscal (and social) collapse?


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Union Square Tax Protest and Bank of America



On Friday, April 15,
New Yorkers and other citizens gathered at Union Square in a protest called “Sounds of Resistance” (because it featured musical groups as well as speakers). The protesters voiced three main demands: that corporations pay their fair share in taxes, that home foreclosures stop immediately, and that our “too big to fail” banks break up.

Union Square, first designated as a public commons in 1815, became a place of social and political activism by the mid-century.
This equestrian statue of George Washington presides over its south end; it was dedicated in 1856 and was the first public sculpture erected in New York since one of George III, almost ninety years earlier. I find it ironic that the Father of our Country must watch over his 21st-century descendants as they struggle for equality against a wealthy, selfish and unsympathetic elite--qualities not unlike those of the 18th-century British Crown which our Revolutionaries fought. The irony thickens when we recall that Washington, in his Farewell Address, made reference to the necessity of paying taxes and called for all Americans to reject partisanship and serve the common good.

Some of you may ask why all of the protest posters seen above focus on the
Bank of America? The answer is that, in terms of its assets, it is the largest bank in the U.S. and, conveniently, it has a branch at the south-west corner of Union Square (which you will see in two later photographs that I took on Friday). Then, also, Bank of America and our other largest banks operate today in a way radically different from when I was a youngster in the 1950s. Back then, we were brought up to understand that banks and bankers were among the most respected, cautious, law-abiding and trustworthy of institutions and professionals.





These qualities of caution and trust were instilled in our very first banks (and reinforced after the Depression with the FDIC). Shown above is a perspective drawing of the First Bank of the United States (in Philadelphia), chartered in 1791 by Congress and signed by George Washington. Among the nonnegotiable conditions for its establishment was that it could neither issue notes nor incur debts beyond its actual capitalization. 

This, of course, is a far cry from today’s banks.
Bank of America, for example, was caught hiding $5.8 billion in bonuses from shareholders as part of its takeover of Merrill Lynch. Bank of America also has repeatedly disregarded the law requiring that it provide legally valid documents to back up its claims in completing foreclosures, in what has been termed the “robo-signing crisis.” Then, again, Bank of America has added new “membership fees” for its credit cards, violating the spirit of the Credit Card Act of 2009. This is not the sort of behavior we, or at least I, expect from the venerable institution of banking.

Naturally, Bank of America is not the only perpetrator of such behavior.
Other major banks have hidden billions in liabilities from investors, defrauded investors of junk mortgages, failed to disclose millions in compensation, passed illegal tips and participated in insider trading, among many other such egregious and “unbankerly” actions. Because Congress (particularly its Republicans) have been extracting the teeth from regulatory commissions for at least three decades, neither the FDIC, the OCC, the CFTC or the SEC has any prosecutorial power and it’s common for high-ranking SEC officials to go on to lucrative jobs with Wall Street banks, as Matt Taibbi reveals in a Rolling Stone article. 



So, here we see the Union Square protesters crossing 14th Street on Friday to picket a local branch of Bank of America, carrying signs that read “Bank rupting America,” “Stop Foreclosures: People before Profits,” “Feed the Poor, Not the War,” and “We Pay Our Taxes; Why Doesn’t Bank of America?”

Since Friday, April 15, is traditionally our tax day, this latter protest sign carried particular relevance. This year,
for the second year in a row, Bank of America paid no federal corporate income taxes. It used its losses to avoid paying taxes, even though it reported a tax benefit of almost a billion dollars. As the American worker and its middle class find themselves besieged by state governors intent upon taking away their rights as citizens; as they see large corporations undermining the power of their vote and banks squeezing the last bits of life out of their mortgages and credit card accounts, it’s no wonder we are entertaining such demonstrations around our country.

Our largest banks constitute the main cause of our financial distress today. As Chris Hedges writes, “The banks and Wall Street, which have erected the corporate state to serve their interests at our expense, caused the financial crisis. The bankers and their lobbyists crafted tax havens that account for up to $1 trillion in tax revenue lost every decade. They rewrote tax laws so the nation’s most profitable corporations, including Bank of America, could avoid paying any federal taxes. They engaged in massive fraud and deception that wiped out an estimated $40 trillion in global wealth. The banks are the ones that should be made to pay for the financial collapse.”




Allow me to end on a more personal note. While most of the protesting crowd was still gathering in Union Square, listening to the speeches and the music, these two citizens stood as the advance guard in front of the local Bank of America branch. They are Patty and Bill, and Patty had come down from Massachusetts for this event. I sent Patty this photograph and gave her the opportunity to tell me why she came all the way down to New York. She offered two reasons, the first quite personal and touching, the second broadly political and rather unsettling because of its historical implications.

On a personal level, Patty wrote: “The reason I came all the way down to NYC is because showing up at demonstrations is
putting my body where my mouth is, so to speak. I am a massage therapist and I believe the physicality of showing up creates a prayer in motion.”

On the broader, political level, Patty wrote this: “I feel full up or even overwhelmed with just living. But P
astor Martin Niemoller's famous words about the Nazis: ‘First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me’ haunt me. I am afraid Americans are asleep, overwhelmed or just too comfortable. The similarities between the fascism of Germany in the 30's and what is going on in the right wing of this country today feels like deja-vu. I was not alive then but I read history. So that is what propelled me to drive an hour, hop 2 trains, subway and walking to arrive at Union Square.

Thank you, Patty, for bringing the energy of your prayer to me and to New York this past Friday.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cry for the Lost Democrat

While I begin a quest to figure out why Democrats have become such wimps, particularly for the last 20-or-so years, and why they cringe in Pavlovian shock whenever a Republican counters their justifiable and accurate criticisms with righteous indignation, I invite you to watch this You Tube piece that I just came across from 2006.  It was uploaded on April 26 of that year by "Liberty Lover," and it posits a wonderful, fictitious response to President Bush's State of the Union Address by "Congressman John Doe," juxtaposed to the actual, mealy-mouthed response by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.


Apparently, this piece first appeared earlier that year on The Quinn Report.  If only we had some Democrats like John Doe today...or better, if only a Democrat gave this response to the State of the Union Address in 2006:  Where would we be today?


To paraphrase the poker players, "Watch 'em and weep."   

Friday, April 8, 2011

Whose History Is This?


The Portland Museum of Art is hosting a public forum today and calling it “Whose Art Is It?” The reference is to the thirty-six foot wide mural painted by artist Judy Taylor in 2008 for the Department of Labor building in Portland, three panels of which are depicted above.

The works are representational, each panel a vertical oblong in which the background provides enough detail to identify the setting and context, but is painted in grisaille so as not to conflict with the main protagonists in the foreground, which are more simplified and painted in color.


The mural, eleven panels in all, is titled The History of Maine Labor, and the artist consulted with historian Charles Scontras about which events to represent. Among these are the first state Labor Day of 1884, the inauguration of the private ballot in 1891, and the failed strike against International Paper in 1987. The figures depicted offer a cross-section of American workers: women riveters, shoemakers, and lumberjacks. At its unveiling three years ago, Maine’s Deputy Commissioner of Labor, Judy Gilbert stated that “this is going to be a very important piece...and...an accurate depiction of organized labor’s role in the history of Maine.”

So why, everyone should be asking, has the new Republican governor of Maine, Paul LePage ordered the murals removed, an act which took place in the relative quiet of last weekend? According to his spokesperson, the governor felt that the murals “are not in keeping with with the department’s pro-business goals.” But this is hardly an acceptable answer for such dastardly and gratuitous act.

Many more challenging subjects of public art--suicides, massacres of the Innocents, rapes of the Sabines--have survived the test of time for centuries, even millennia.  Certainly Governor LePage isn’t so thin-skinned as to deny the laborers of his state their moment in the sun?

No businessman would have abandoned a project in Maine because of these murals, but I suspect that this act of crass philistinism is less about coddling business and more a part of a larger phenomenon among the growing population of today’s conservative Republicans. That phenomenon is a broad-based rewriting of the history of our country to serve a narrow, conservative ideology.

This phenomenon of rewriting history is maybe best remembered by the Texas history book re-write that took place around this time last year. In mid-March of 2010, the Texas Board of Education approved a social studies curriculum that, literally, would alter history and economics textbooks for the entire country. Texas can do this because its size allows it to command the textbook market. What Texas demands, publishers supply for schools throughout the country (except for California, which is large enough to have managed a ban on these new Texas revisions).

Among the hundreds of historical revisions issuing from Texas will be
the replacing of Thomas Jefferson as a great thinker of the Enlightenment (by John Calvin);  the teaching of the Judaeo-Christian influences on our Founding Fathers, but not the importance of the separation of church and state;  the naming of our government as a “constitutional republic” rather than “democratic;”  the deemphasizing of the fact that the Constitution prevents the government from promoting one religion over others;  the partial whitewashing of McCarthyism by suggesting that Joe McCarthy’s hearings were justified;  and the addition of a section on conservative resurgence of the 1980s with figures like Phyllis Schlafly, the Heritage Foundation, and the NRA.

As Board Member Cynthia Dunbar, an evangelical lawyer who was elected on the board for her religious views, stated, “In Texas we have certain statutory obligations to promote patriotism and to promote the free enterprise system. There seems to have been a move away from a patriotic ideology. There seems to be a denial that this was a nation founded under God. We had to go back and make some
corrections.” 

This, however, is not how real history is written and becomes broadly accepted.
This is propaganda masquerading as history. It is a misdirected (and in some cases cynical) attempt to mold the world, not as it really is, but as one would prefer it to be. It is a part of what is known as the “big lie,” and if enough young students (from Texas and other states) read this revised history, it may indeed become their truth.

A more liberal Texas Board of Education member, Mary Helen
Berlanga, who is an attorney in Corpus Christi, complained in vain that other members of the Board “are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians....they are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.” In this way, a grass-roots, school board lie can spread from Texas across our country, like Kudzu.

James
McKinley covered this topic for the New York Times on March 12, 2010 and opened his article with these words: “The Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.”

So, one may ask,
how do two incidents, one in Texas that clearly is a concerted effort on the part of a conservative board to rewrite history, and another that simply may be the thoughtless overreaching of a confused conservative governor, constitute a broadly-based phenomenon? What connects them?

There is no “smoking gun,” no convenient memo from Karl Rove, for example, admonishing Republicans everywhere to use his enclosed history talking points whenever possible. But we do have innumerable examples in the past decade of Republicans who either do not know their American history or are playing loose with historical facts for some ulterior motive. This, in itself, is astonishing and frightening.

Allow me just three examples from among literally hundreds. Former House Majority Leader
Dick Armey (R, TX), in attempting to cast socialism in a bad light (as Republicans always want to do), claimed that the Jamestown settlement was doomed because they were socialists: “Jamestown colony, when it was first founded as a socialist venture, dang near failed with everybody dead and dying in the snow." Actually, the Jamestown settlement of 1607 was a capitalist venture financed by the Virginia Company of London. What we have here is a former economics professor falsifying history to make it conform to contemporary conservative ideology in his talk to the National Press Club on March 15, 2010.

Another example, where more recent historical events are subjected to a Republican make-over, reveals
several members of the Republican party suffering from ideologically-induced amnesia in regard to the September 11th attacks on our country. Rudy Giuliani told George Stephanopoulos of Good Morning America that “We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama.” Even had he meant “after 9/11," he still was wrong, as we also had the anthrax attacks, Richard Reid’s failed shoe bomb attempt, and the 2003 Beltway sniper attacks, all of which were terrorist acts under George Bush. But Giuliani wasn’t alone. Dana Perino, Bush’s last White House Press Secretary claimed in an interview, “We did not have a terrorist attack on the country during President Bush’s term.” Then, Republican strategist Mary Matalin said that Bush “inherited the September 11th attacks” from President Clinton. Maybe if enough Republicans say this, we will forget that the Clinton Administration was warning the new Bush Administration about suspected Al-Qaeda plots on our country beginning with a memo of January 25, 2001.

There are, of course, many, many more examples of such conscious manipulations of historical fact, of distorting history for ideological purposes, among today’s conservative Republicans. Among these, some examples may be less intentional and stem simply from a lack of respect for history, and still others may derive from simple ignorance.

I would place
Michele Bachmann (R, MN) in this latter category. What are we to do with an elected Representative who consistently falsifies or garbles history? One could fill an entire blog post of this length with her historical misstatements, but I will offer just two. In the first, Bachmann is so enamored of our founding fathers that she feels compelled to remake them in the image she desires, and so she told Iowans on January this year that the "very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States." That Jefferson, Washington and many others owned slaves is an inconvenient truth for our representative from Minnesota. And then, less than a month ago, while addressing New Hampshire Republicans at a Manchester fundraiser, she gushed, “You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.”



May we let your third-grader correct this Bachmann statement?  Meanwhile I’ll try hard not to weep for my country (as my tears may destroy my keyboard) and conclude this post as follows:
I’m not sure why our conservative Republican citizens are so intent on re-writing and distorting our shared history, but rather than learning from history, they seem to want to create it. In doing so, they ignore the reality of the past and are much more likely to repeat and relive its miseries. Although these Republicans are not totalitarians (not yet, anyway) their behavior does bring to mind George Orwell’s observation that “from the totalitarian point of view history is something to be created rather than learned.” (1946, “The Prevention of Literature”)

Please, let’s all try to embrace the real history that we share.  It belongs to all of us!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

America and the Corporate Dragon

America's Corporate Dragon

In many cultures, we encounter legends in which the people of a town or kingdom are threatened by a dragon (or some other form of malevolent, supernatural being). In order for them to survive, these people must appease the dragon, often first feeding it sheep and goats, but soon more precious sacrifices--their own children.



Most of us know something about the “Sphinx of Thebes,” lion-bodied with head and breasts of a woman and wings of an eagle, who preyed on the youth of the land until Oedipus solved her riddle.


And then there is the legend of “St. George and the Dragon” as told in the Golden Legend, in which George rescues the town of Silene (and the king’s daughter, who had become the latest sacrificial victim) by standing up to, wounding, and later slaying the dragon.



Now, whatever the reality behind these legends, we certainly must wonder why the town would sacrifice its youth to appease an insatiable superhuman force.  The youth of a community is its future, and one must never sacrifice one’s future for limited gains and personal survival in the present. Placing another child in front of the dragon’s lair is an insane, short-term solution. A community thrives only when focused on long-term gains in which education and social programs bring wealth to all.


Could Silene not have found other solutions to countering the dragon?  Had all of its citizens joined forces in coordinated and communal action, and not necessarily to slay the dragon, could they not possibly have penned it in or otherwise harnessed its power to serve the entire community--what today we might want to call true bipartisanship?


And if legends embody some truth of a far-distant past, so too, past legends that have come down to us may help us to give meaning to our present. Today, our corporations have become a version of the dragon of Silene. As is the dragon--reptilian, supernatural, and insatiable, always demanding more--so our corporations are superhuman, insatiable and only interested in short-term gains (their share prices).



Republican lawmakers have become the accommodating citizens of Silene, sacrificing their children’s education, healthcare, and worker’s rights to appease a force that already has too much, always will want more, and has no loyalty to the community, the state or the nation--these corporations are now, more than ever before, the threat that Eisenhower termed the “Military-Industrial Complex.”


Thus today, in state after state--especially those with Republican governors--we are suffering legislative attacks on workers, the poor, and the middle-class while new benefits and tax cuts are being given to large corporations and the rich. These examples of the Right feeding the Rich are like some legend from the past, too gruesome and inhuman to be true....


....Yet, if we open our eyes, we see taking place right before us the sacrificing of our nation and its future to the corporate dragon.


Here, listed alphabetically, state-by-state, are thirteen examples of how this sacrifice is taking place before our very eyes!


Arizona: Corporate tax cuts will cost the state $538 million.
As a way to make up the difference, Governor Jan Brewer proposes cutting health care for 280,000 of the state’s poor, totally canceling health insurance coverage for another 70,000 people, implementing deep cuts in Medicaid, and reducing funding for state universities by 46% per student.


Florida: Governor Rick Scott wants to make his state the most “fiscally conservative” in the nation, and part of his plan involves slashing corporate income and property taxes. He intends to cut $1 billion in property taxes over two years and almost $1.5 billion in corporate income taxes, eventually phasing out corporate taxes altogether.


To balance this out, he will cut Medicaid by almost $4 billion, lay off 6,700 state employees, gut the Department of Children and Families, and cut education funding by $4.8 billion. The latter will reduce the average annual pay for teachers by $2,335.00.


Georgia: Although Georgia already has the 49th lowest tax burden per capita in the country, Governor Nathan Deal and Republican legislators propose to cut corporate taxes by 33%. Two specific beneficiaries are Gulfstream Aerospace and Delta Airlines: the former will get a sales tax exemption that will cost the state $11.8 million over two years, while the latter will get a sales tax reduction costing the state around $30 million.
To enable these corporate giveaways, Georgia has passed a budget that increases health insurance costs for state workers, teachers and retirees; it already has gutted the state’s HOPE scholarship program; it will cut funding for state universities by $75 million, and it is considering a regressive tax system that lowers taxes on the rich while raising sales taxes on basic necessities such as groceries, water and phone services.


Iowa: Governor Tom Branstad has proposed lowering the top rate on the corporate income tax, which will cost the state $130 million in 2012 and over $200 million per year subsequently. The Iowa House is proposing a 20% cut to state income taxes, which would cost it $350 million in 2012 and $700 million/year subsequently; other business breaks, such as bonus depreciation rules, will cost around $83 million in 2011 and $141 million in 2012. It is reported that one tax program alone will allow 133 corporations to pay no Iowa income taxes.


In order to balance these, the governor will freeze school spending, cut $42 million from state university budgets, and lay off hundreds of state workers. The Republican-controlled House will make further cuts to public universities, halt most infrastructure development, and eliminate pre-school for 4-year olds.


Kansas: Governor Sam Brownback wants to eliminate the state’s corporate income tax. For the other side of this equation, Brownback and the Republican legislature are proposing a $50 million cut to education as well as a cut to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, which would place some 6,500 new families below the poverty line.


Maine: Governor LePage wants to cut income taxes for the wealthiest one-percent, and he gave away more that $200 million in tax cuts for large estates, businesses and the rich, including a $2,700 tax cut for those earning more than $360,000/year.


To balance this, he is freezing healthcare funding for working parents, cutting money from schools and infrastructure, raising the retirement age for public workers. In his campaign, LePage promised to boost state education funding to the 55% approved by voters in 2005. As Garrett Martin of the Maine Center for Economic Policy writes, the general-purpose aid to education General Fund will be lower in 2013 than it was in 2006....[or] $137 million short of that legally mandated goal.” http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/governors-budget-too-kind-to-rich-too-harsh-on-middle-class-and-poor_2011-03-11.html


Michigan: Governor Rick Snyder is proposing cuts of more than 86% for taxes on business. This will amount to a $1.8 billion business tax break.


Offsetting this will be what amounts to a multi-pronged attack on retirees, schoolchildren, public employees and low-wage workers. Retirees face new tax on pensions and 401(k)s; low-wage workers face cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit; and education faces a reduction in spending of up to $700 per pupil from K-12 due to a proposed $1.2 billion cut in funding for schools, universities and local governments.


While business taxes drop by 86%, individual taxes will rise by 31%, and resulting in a regressive plan whose impact on Michigan’s poorest households will be over ten (10)times greater than on the wealthiest households. So says the non-partisan Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy. http://www.americaforpurchase.com/republicans/republicans-placing-taxes-directly-on-backs-of-working-class/


Mississippi: While calling for a huge cut in his state’s corporate income tax, Governor Haley Barbour wants his Legislature to cut another $65 million in education funding beyond the $300 million already cut by his Republican legislature. He also wants to convert the state’s Medicaid program into block grants, even as Mississippi already has one of the least generous Medicaid programs in the nation. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/02/951850/-The-Biggest-Loser:-Haley-Barbour-Edition


To accomplish this, the Republican Legislature has cut education by over $300 million and Barbour is asking for another $65 million in cuts. He also wants to convert Mississippi’s Medicaid program, already among the least generous in the nation, into block grants that the state would then control. Finally, we have Barbour’s hypocritical entitlement of using the state plane for non-governmental use, such as personal fundraising, football games and boxing matches. http://thinkprogress.org/2010/12/27/barbour-jet/


New Jersey: Governor Chris Christie is proposing $200 million in business tax cuts, with more proposed for the next four years. These cuts would save businesses about $690 million by 2015 and, as Jarrett Renshaw writes, “solidify his [Christie’s] image as a fiscal conservative.” http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/02/gov_christies_budget_to_includ.html One questions such fiscal conservatism, given the fact that one of his bills will result in a $250 million state revenue loss and another in a $400 million revenue loss, but then, present day Republican fiscal thinking is based on belief and ideology, not logic and reality. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/01/nj_assembly_passes_bill_on_res.html


Among the ways that Christie will balance out these corporate giveaways are by raising taxes on the state’s middle-class and poor by cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit, homestead rebates, mental health services, and Medicaid. He also is withholding property tax rebates and, as we all know, has proposed cuts to New Jersey schools, which Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne has ruled against, noting that the State has a “constitutionally mandated obligation to educate our children....[and] it is clear the State has failed to carry its burden.” Let’s also not forget that Christie passed up Federal money and a golden opportunity to create more jobs when he killed that major transit project for a new transit tunnel under the Hudson River.


Ohio: Governor John Kasich is planning tax cuts for oil companies (as if they needed any) and other corporations, a repeal of the estate tax, and an income tax cut for the rich. If, instead of this latter cut, Kasich was to restore the income tax rate of 7.5% on those making over $200,000 and create a new 8.5% rate for those making over $500,000, he would generate $950 million a year for Ohio. Kasich also wants to privatize some long-standing and symbolic state operations, such as the Ohio Turnpike and the state’s liquor distribution operation. He wants to lease this latter operation to JobsOhio, a private economic development corporation that he, himself, has created.


To balance off all this, Kasich is cutting 25% of the budget for schools and proposes to cut $1 million from food banks, $12 million from children’s hospitals, and $15.9 million from an adoption program for children with special needs. In similar fashion to Christie in New Jersey, Kasich killed Ohio’s high speed rail project, in which federal money would have created many needed jobs. None of these onerous, belt-tightening projects seemed to dampen his inaugural celebrations, the price of which was $1.15 million.


Pennsylvania: Governor Tom Corbett has proposed $171.1 million in business tax credits and is also proposing to phase-out the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax, which will save businesses $70 million. His corporate tax breaks will be worth between $200 million and $833 million, depending upon which estimate one uses (the latter, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, is likely more accurate).


Having buckled under Tea Party pressure to issue a no-tax pledge, he also will oppose any tax on natural gas drilling (aka, fracking), thus giving this industry a windfall as it destroys the environment with its invasive and polluting processes and making Pennsylvania the only major gas-producing state to not tax fracking.


To balance these giveaways, Corbett will freeze teachers’ salaries, make cuts in Medicaid, and cut $1 billion in funding for education. These education cuts also will affect students from poorer districts ten times harder than it will students from wealthier districts.


South Carolina: Even if on a smaller and possibly less egregious level, Governor Nikki Haley is seeking to entirely eliminate the state’s corporate income tax while cutting education funding and Medicaid along with forcing state employees to pay more for their benefits.


Wisconsin: Governor Scott Walker has given away $140 million in corporate tax cuts, even though these cuts already have worsened the state’s fiscal condition. http://thinkprogress.org/2011/03/16/gop-state-corporate-tax-cuts/   Then on January 31, he signed a bill that enables companies relocating in the state to avoid any corporate tax payments for two years. While campaigning, he also had proposed additional tax breaks that included reducing taxes on employers and repealing the "combined reporting" requirement for business taxes, a measure that had increased tax revenues and was approved in 2009.


Offsetting this, besides his now infamous push to strip away collective bargaining rights from public workers, are plans to eliminate $26 million in tax credits for seniors, single mothers and cancel property tax rebates for low-income Wisconsinites who make less than $24,000 a year. He also plans to dismantle his state’s Medicaid system. State workers will now pay more for their pensions and health insurance, and thus lose take-home pay.


*For those who wish to look into some of these examples on your own, here are the urls for two general sources: http://thinkprogress.org/2011/03/16/gop-state-corporate-tax-cuts/ and http://www.americaforpurchase.com/republicans/republicans-placing-taxes-directly-on-backs-of-working-class/