Thursday, October 15, 2009

REPLY to Patrick Gleason

REPLY to Patrick Gleason
From: Senator Daylin Leach

I'm not certain who my "buddies in Harrisburg" are. But I'll do my best to respond to what I can understand of Mr. Gleason’s argument.

Mr. Gleason objects to my assertion that people shouldn't sign a pledge to NEVER increase taxes because such a pledge is inevitably made without knowing what spending cuts honoring such a pledge would require. He says two things in this regard.

First, he claims that there are "barriers" to knowing this information, which is my point exactly. If you don't now know all the information you will need to know in the future, why take some silly pledge that ties your hands when the facts become available? In essence you are pledging to do something in the future regardless of what the facts may be at the time. Maybe that's how Mr. Gleason’s "buddies" do business, but it doesn't seem very prudent.

Second, he suggests I should instead ask what families and business who are "struggling" (presumably I don't have to ask those not struggling) will have to sacrifice in order to pay higher taxes. That is a legitimate question. It should be asked. And the answer to that question will dictate what spending and taxes should occur. That is why I have not taken a pledge to ALWAYS raise taxes. So Mr. Gleason suggests a question, but is then indifferent to the answer.

I would note that when asked, the people who Mr. Gleason refers to often do support paying more in taxes. Here's a small example. In Montgomery County a few years ago there was a referendum where people were asked if they would be willing to pay higher taxes to preserve open space. Almost 80% said yes. A Quinnipiac Poll taken just a couple of months ago found that a strong majority of Pennsylvanians support paying more taxes to avoid cuts in education and health care.

Finally, Mr. Gleason makes an argument that I do struggle to understand. I had said that the analogy frequently used by those on the right about running government like a family is misapplied. When a family is trying to make ends meet, it of course cuts out discretionary spending on things like movies and vacations. But before it cuts out core expenditures, like say…feeding the kids, it looks into finding new sources of revenue.

Similarly, while the government must, and should, and did make cuts, there are certain core functions like say…feeding the kids, that it must avoid cutting for the good of society. So before such core functions are cut, government must look for new sources of revenue.

Mr. Gleason then somehow claims that in making this argument I am calling for “burglarizing” and “robbing”. I think a reasonable response to this would be HUH????. But I’ll try to do better.

If Mr. Gleason is claiming that taxation is stealing, he is, with all due respect, truly veering off into serious wack-job territory. Even those furthest on the right support SOME taxes, if only to enforce laws against abortion and provide police protection to Tea-Partiers. Even Glenn Beck hasn’t called for the complete elimination of all government and the institution of full-on anarchy. And once you support ANY taxes, you, as one of the thieves, can no longer sanctimoniously claim that taxes are stealing.

All of this goes to say what I said in my original post. There are times when it is appropriate to cut taxes and times when it is appropriate to raise them, depending on the circumstances. So taking some silly pledge that you will never raise taxes no matter what the circumstances is irresponsible.



A Response for Senator Daylin Leach

From Patrick Gleason

Yesterday PA Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) added a new entry to his blog in which he explains why he believes Senator Jane Orie (R-Allegheny) was “foolish and irresponsible” for ever signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that she broke last week with her vote for the budget.
Leach laments that the Pledge “does not mention which services the signer is willing to cut in tough times.” Here Leach is simply regurgitating the same tired line repeated by tax hike proponents who like to ask, “what would you cut from the state budget?” Never mind the barriers to getting all of the information necessary to best answer that query, I have a better question for Leach – what should the families and businesses already struggling to pay the bills cut from their budgets or sacrifice in order to pay higher taxes?

Leach opines that “it makes as much sense for a state legislator to pledge never to raise a tax as it does for a family breadwinner to pledge never to seek additional income.”

Let’s ignore the fact that this analogy doesn’t really work unless you believe that the proper role of government is to be the provider or “breadwinner” for all. Maybe Leach does. However, sticking with Leach’s family budget theme, let’s consider a better analogy for the state budget process. Here we have the equivalent of a family spending as much as it wants, with no regard for their income, savings, or the job stability of the bread winner(s). Once means have been exhausted the family, rather than stop spending, they proceed to burglarize area businesses and steal from neighbors to cover the bills. That’s how Leach and his buddies do budgeting in Harrisburg.

Fun work if you can get it


Blogger Nathan Benefield said...

1)"[H]e [Gleason] claims that there are 'barriers' to knowing this information, which is my point exactly."

Uh, no. Gleason was referring a lack of spending transparency in PA. That is not your "point exactly", or even tangentially.

2) The Quinnipiac poll also found voters preferred laying off state employees and cutting services to higher taxes. The question you cite was a false choice - none of the proposed budgets would have resulted in cuts for education or health care.

3) You act as though the budget debate was whether to raise taxes or starve children. In reality, the state budget preserved hundreds of millions of dollars for corporate welfare, millions more for the Pittsburgh Penguins arena, million dollar marketing deals, fraud (and outright theft) in welfare, per-diems for lawmakers, funding for ACORN, and a multitude of other spending initiatives someone less critical than feeding kids.

For more see:

October 15, 2009 12:55 PM 
Blogger Hehewuti said...

Why Daylin,
I don't follow you much (stumbled upon this), but I am thinking I should. Here's a fun fact for you: one of the largest Tea Partiers in Radnor Twp doesn't even own his own property!!

You aren't wrong, Daylin, but some people just want to fight about everything -- you see, it's the only thing they have going on in their daily life.

I hate taxes. I hate that they keep going up, but I also know that the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" amounts to purely political grandstanding. There is nothing to back it up. I might take See Jane Pretend To Govern Orie more seriously if she was doing something to attract real businesses to PA and get the kind of jobs that keep us from being known as a "brain drain" state. We all are struggling to pay the bills. I have friends out of work, friends who can barely afford healthcare, know of seniors who have gone BACK to work, and even people losing their homes.

But what I am REALLY sick of are all the politicians figthing from Harrisburg to Washington DC. Not all of us out there are rabidly politically right or left. Most of us are just trying to get by. Yet we all suffer from political party pissing matches. And given the extremism, it's getting harder and harder to find elected officials to believe in because they don't care about us really, just grandstanding. You know, like Sarah Palin?

And lest Patrick Gleason decide this blogger is a new target, I think the budget sucks and don't want MORE and HIGHER taxes- AND I think Fast Eddie has made a MESS out of PA and hope he doesn't leave another John Street to follow him.

However, that being said, I also am SICK of politicians like See Jane Pretend to Govern, who pull these "stunts" to suck up to certain factions. But these "stunts" have nothing to back them up.

And Mr. Gleason has to use a conservative boogie man in his post -- ACORN. Oh HORRORS! When all else fails be Glen Beck. LOL.

October 16, 2009 4:58 AM 
Blogger Daylin said...

Mr. Benefield says the "barriers to getting information" necessary to allow a pledge-signer to tell us what he'd cut from the budget relate to "transparency" in Pennsylvania. He then says that therefore that information is not germane to my point about why you shouldn't promise not to raise taxes unless you know what you'll have to cut as a result. This argument makes little, and by "little" I mean "no" sense.

So I''ll try again.

It doesn't matter if information about necessary cuts is hard to come by because of "transparency" issues (whatever they are) or some other issues. It comes down to this: Are the cut necessitated by a refusal to raise taxes a relevant consideration or not? If they are relevant, which I and I think most thinking people feel they are, then ANY inability to have the information prior to pledging not to raise taxes means you are pledging blind.

You are pledging to vote a certain way without knowing all you need to know about the consequences of your vote. And this is, as I said before, irresponsible. It doesn't matter WHY you don't know the information today. The fact is you SHOULD know it before deciding how to vote. That is a legislator's job.

Second, Mr. Benefield dismisses the polls saying people would pay higher taxes to avoid cuts in education and health care by saying that the Senate Republican budget proposal's cuts in those categories amounted to none. "none" (yes, he really said "none")

That of course is just blatantly, crazily, insanely false. There would have been dramatic cuts to many health and education programs. One hospital in my district said that SB850 estimated that their one facility would have lost 16 million dollars under that budget. But without getting into a program by program analysis, I at least find hope in Mr. Benefield's implied point. Which I take to be that if there WERE cuts to education and health care, he would support tax increases to avoid them.

As for spending on sports stadiums and the like, I have no brief for that and I am certainly not saying that I personally approve of every dime spent in the state budget. What I am saying is that it is a bad idea to pledge to vote a certain way on budget proposals in the distant future, without any idea of the consequences of that vote.

October 17, 2009 6:36 AM 

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