How Serious is America About Fixing Her Budget Crises?
The nation has been closely watching the budget showdown currently taking place in Madison, WI.
In an attempt to address a budget shortfall through June 30, and a projected $3.6 billion deficit in the upcoming two-year budget, Governor Scott Walker is calling on legislators to pass a bill requiring workers to pay for more of their health care premiums and pension contributions.
The bill also would eliminate most of public employees’ collective bargaining rights. And workers are saying to the governor, they aren’t having it. Accordingly, many of the public school teachers have refused to return to class and teach. Also, fourteen democratic lawmakers have fled the state to prevent voting on the legislation from happening.
The reason all eyes are upon Madison is because, like Wisconsin, most states are faced with making painful budget cuts to get spending under control. The Madison protests will most certainly resonate in some other states as they work through their budget process. Regardless to whether you side with Governor Walker’s approach to the crisis or with the public workers' reaction, here is the bottom line: Across the nation, some unpopular decisions must be made to accomplish fiscal health, some sacred programs will die in the process, and there are going to be some unhappy people.
This same dynamic is playing itself out on the federal budget level as well. We still have no budget passed for the current fiscal year. As for President Obama’s proposed budget for 2012, which trims an estimated $1.1 trillion dollars from the deficit over the next decade, the GOP says this does not go nearly far enough. Eventually, huge entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare will have to be factored into the equation as well. Again, some unpopular decisions must be made to accomplish fiscal health, some sacred programs will die in the process, and there are going to be some unhappy people.Continued on the next page