Thursday, January 13, 2005

More How To Govern 101

The boldness of new governor Mitch Daniels is astounding. He hasn't taken a soft item yet. Everything is laced with controversy. I guess that 9-point victory over Joe Kernan is not merely interpreted as a mandate, but as holy writ.

First issue: Daylight savings time, with built-in 50/50 division.
Second issue: Severing the collective bargaining agreement with state employees, creating very interested opposition from the affected unions, and a sizeable percentage of the employees.

New issue: cutting Indiana Medicaid. Indy Star story. Expect to hear the wailing immediately. "Evil Mitch Daniels is taking aid away from the children!" That claim is fact. Medicade stats show that nearly 70% of recipients are children. "Those vicious Republicans are taking away from the poor!" Well, 92% of spending is on the disabled, elderly, and children. Mitch Roob is a human services aide to the governor. His comments in the Star story give all the ammo the opponents will need. Quoth the Star:
"Roob, who used to run Wishard Memorial Hospital, a county-run hospital in
Indianapolis, acknowledged that cutting Medicaid payments could limit access to
pregnant women and children, people with physical and mental disabilities and
seniors who rely on the state-federal program."

The problem with identifying individual programs for cuts is that their defenders pop out, decrying the action as unfair, and say that there are better targets for cuts. Raising taxes on millionaires is popular policy, since most people aren't millionaires, and nobody feels sorry for millionaires anyways. But pregnant women and children?

If you really want to cut a budget, you pretty well have to cut across the board. If this kind of cut is promoted, nobody can claim they have been singled out. No lobby can emerge and call it unfair. You can make it strictly economic and point to the dollars coming in and the current spending commitments, and show the difference.

I prefer a 10% cut across the board. If there is a surplus generated by this, put half in the emergency fund, and return the other half to the taxpayers in a refund check.

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