Hold on to your wallets and purses; it has begun. I am referring of course to the Democrat War on Taxpayers, which is sometimes antiseptically referred to as formulating the next state budget.
With a nominal party advantage of 221 to 179 in the House (it’s actually higher, as a practical matter, when fiscally-challenged Republicans are considered) and paradigmatic party-discipline, it is manifest that House Democrat leadership has the power to pass whatever budget they want. And it is a safe bet that the budget they get passed will materially increase spending (the Democrats owe the public sector unions big-time) and raise some existing taxes (the tobacco tax for sure), and perhaps impose some new taxes. But if history is any guide, and it should be in this case because the House Democrat leadership will likely be mostly the same crew that created an $800 million deficit between 2006 and 2010, the budget passed by the Democrat-controlled House will grossly overestimate future tax revenues in order to make the budget appear balanced.
While House Republicans lack the numbers to prevent fiscal bad behavior by House Democrats (as noted above, the 179 actually overstates the true Republican strength in the House), they can accomplish two important things: (1) they can set the tone and provide an example for the Senate where Republicans, if they wish, can pass a fiscally responsible budget and (2) they can begin making their case to the voters for 2014. Here are three things House Republicans should do:
First, go big. Establish an overarching objective that is consistent with Republican principles. Examples are: no increase in spending from the prior budget, increasing spending only by the rate of inflation, spending at a certain percentage of anticipated revenue (using a realistic projection, of course) and dedicating the remainder to the rainy day fund and/or tax relief.
Second, watch what you say. Believe it or not, folks outside Concord hear “cut the budget” and think that spending is actually going to be less than it was in the prior budget (which allows Democrats to argue that Granny is going to be left at the curb to die), when “cut” often refers to merely reducing the extent to which the Governor’s budget wants to increase spending. Unless you are actually proposing reducing spending from the level in the prior budget, don’t use the word “cut.” And if you just can’t resist, how about “cutting new spending” or “cutting new spending from the Governor’s proposed budget,” rather than the misleading “cutting the budget.” But the best thing would be to, whenever possible, “go big” and eschew debating the merits of individual programs which give Democrats the opportunity to demagogue.
Third, understand the purpose of amendments and debate. They are not going to change Democrat minds. They can be, when utilized properly, a tool to educate the public and to establish a record to run on and against.