As state lawmakers begin to seriously consider the prospect of a new and unplanned half-billion dollar budget hole and the devastating cuts to education and health that it will cause, here are two takes to compare and contrast on this critical issue. The first comes from good ol’ Senator Richard “Bank Run” Burr. According to a story on WRAL.com yesterday:
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr dismissed any notion that the Senate would add the funding for the states back into the bill. ‘I don’t suspect there will be any money for states,’ Burr said, adding that he and his colleagues are focused on balancing the needs of the country against reining in the soaring national deficit.”
Great, Senator. Thanks for fighting so hard for the folks back home.
For a genuinely thoughtful take on this new crisis that’s been manufactured by ideological conservatives, read this recent blog post by Bob Greenstein, head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Here are some highlights:
At the last minute, the House yesterday dropped an extension of Recovery Act assistance for cash-strapped states from jobs legislation, which it then passed, in order to help satisfy congressional critics who complained about the legislation’s impact on the deficit. These critics are effectively saying that the cost of increasing today’s budget deficits outweighs the benefit of helping states avert massive cuts in services and tax increases.
In fact, the opposite is true. Extending state fiscal relief is the right course from both an economic and a fiscal standpoint.
Most economists agree that the nation’s real budgetary threat isn’t our current deficits, which are necessary to help the economy recover from a deep recession, but, rather, the projected deficits over the next decade and beyond, which pose a significant risk to the economy. Extending fiscal relief for states would have virtually no impact on those longer-term deficits because it would be strictly temporary, boosting the long-term budget gap by just a fraction of 1 percent.
And extending fiscal relief would have a significant positive impact on jobs and the economy.”
Let’s hope the powers that be in DC listen to smart and informed people like Greenstein and adhere to their usual practice of completely ignoring ineffective and uninformed pols like North Carolina’s senior senator.