What Obama Can Learn from New Hampshire's Budget Reform
By Patrick Hynes
President Barack Obama visits the Granite State Thursday (provided the snow storm doesn’t scuttle his trip). He’s expected to tout recent positive economic news to bolster his presidential re-election campaign.
But the President should close his mouth and open his ears. If he did, he would learn a thing or two about fiscal prudence and responsible budgeting.
When Republicans William O’Brien and Peter Bragdon took over the State House and State Senate respectively, they inherited a massive deficit hole of $47 million from the previous budget. One reason Republicans swept the 2010 elections is because the Democratic leaders of the previous General Court had so badly mismanaged state funds.
Republicans almost immediately took to fixing the budget. They reduced spending by $1.2 billion, an 11% reduction in the size of the previous Democrat budget. They reduces general fund spending by $536 million, an 18% reduction.
Republican leaders also trimmed taxes and fees for businesses large and small and for individuals.
These moves provoked the usual expected howls from the Democrats. But the results are indisputable. The state now has a $17.7 million budget surplus, which is almost exclusively attributable to spending reductions (revenues are believed to be on the rise, as well, but the effects are unlikely to be felt for a couple of months.)
State Democrats called the spending cuts a “war on the middle class” and predicted they would result in catastrophe. But the state’s unemployment rate continues to fall and currently stands well below the national average at 5.2%.
Consider, by way of contrast, President Obama’s recent budget proposal. To be sure, the President knows his budget has no hope of passing; the House is controlled by Republicans and the Democrat-controlled Senate is openly flouting its responsibility by failing even to pretend to want to pass a budget. So Obama’s budget is strictly designed for political and aesthetic purposes. And it still doesn’t come anywhere near balance. In fact, it forecasts a $1.3 trillion deficit.
“The President should note that New Hampshire is shrinking our unemployment rate and growing our workforce the right way – without government bailouts or taxpayer funded stimulus programs,” House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt told NH Journal. “Instead, we brought spending under control and reduced a historic deficit without raising a single tax or fee. In fact, we cut or eliminated 12 taxes or fees and passed 43 new laws that reduced regulations. Now, our economy is thriving as our employers are gaining the confidence to add new jobs. The President should leave his big government solutions in Washington and learn how we can get the economy moving again when we lift the burden of the state from the back of those who actually create jobs.”
When we compare the fiscal condition of President Obama’s federal government and that of the Granite State under a Republican budget, there is no contest. Obama’s time in New Hampshire would be best spent listening to Republican leaders at the State House rather then spinning tales about his own discredited fiscal policies.