It’s a common political attack on Democrats and liberals that they support redistribution of wealth. While there is some truth to it, Republicans and conservatives also support redistribution considering that all taxes take from one and give to another in one form or another.
Republicans decry various forms of welfare, to include Medicaid, food stamps, and a variety of other programs to help the poor and disadvantaged. But the same decriers don’t seem to have problems with agricultural subsidies, government run flood insurance, government guarantees for bank loans, tax loopholes that only the wealthy can take advantage of, tax exemptions for churches, and more.
Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) has tasked most state agencies with cutting their budgets this year by four percent and six percent next year. This despite record low unemployment in Georgia and cutting the state income tax a quarter percent last year and proposing another quarter percent cut this year in anticipation of less revenue.
How could this be? We have been told by Republicans since the 1980s that cutting taxes will result in more revenue. And when it doesn’t happen, fingers are pointed at waste, fraud, abuse, and unnecessary spending. In 2012, Governor Sam Brownback promised the citizens of Kansas that large tax cuts would be “a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” It wasn’t.
New York City and San Francisco are experimenting with no bail provisions for a number of crimes. While some reform might be necessary with the system, a policy debate that politicians can have, the current changes don’t seem to be working, and the people of these cities are the ones who have become victims of this experiment.
In Georgia, the governor is proposing that the Department of Corrections and Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) also take hits to their budgets. This too will cause problems when fewer prison guards are employed, and the prison guards who do get hired are grossly underpaid resulting in high yearly turnovers and the least qualified people. It will also force the release of prisoners who haven’t earned their way back into society. Cost cutting comes with a price.
Republicans still dominate in Cobb County, Georgia despite a trend to the purple. The current chairman of the commission, Mike Boyce, has a Republican primary opponent. Boyce’s opponent, who has run for the chairman position three times in twelve years without success, has the sharpest pencil anywhere. He’s a one trick pony. Boyce is proposing a substantial pay hike for our public safety officers, something that is long overdue. While no politician who wants to win or keep his office will oppose paying our police what they deserve, they find other ways to say no that might be politically palatable.
Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell is about as conservative as they come. But to her credit she has made clear that public safety comes first, and she supports a large pay raise. In this instance she understands the difference between people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Our police may cost, but the value they provide can be matched with any law enforcement department in America.
Meanwhile, critics of Boyce, who passed small tax hikes in order to maintain the high level of services we receive in Cobb County, is facing tough opposition for it. Yet for reasons I don’t understand, our very Republican sheriff a year or so ago hired a lobbyist at a salary of about $130,000/year, which probably comes with health and retirement benefits. The sheriff is an elected official who knows all the state politicians on a first name basis and presumably can do his own lobbying. Yet there has been deadly silence from Republicans about the creation of this position. When Boyce first came into office in 2017, he cut a lobbyist who was being paid $14,000/month, but he has received no credit or recognition for it.
A couple of years ago when Boyce faced a difficult budget, he was able to pass a $5/month fee on to those who use our well appointed senior citizen centers. The outcry, largely from his Republican base, was shrill. They couldn’t imagine why they should pay for the service they use instead of the taxpayers picking up the tab.
Republicans never fail to remind the populace that it’s your money that you earned that you should get to keep. I have no problem with that statement in the abstract. The reality, though, is that taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society (Oliver Wendell Holmes). We all want the best services, preferably free, or for the least amount of money. That’s where the twain usually don’t meet. You get what you pay for.