Fiddling while Rome burns
By Assemblyman Joel Anderson
In the year AD 64, Roman emperor Nero fiddled at the top of a tower as a devastating fire swept through the city of Rome. According to many accounts, Nero himself started the fire and then blamed it on Christians.
Today, an economic fire is ravaging California.
Unemployment has climbed to 11.5 percent, income tax revenue is down 33.8 percent from last year and the budget deficit is now $24 billion.
Tax increases only fuel the flames of recession that are destroying our economy. The budget passed in February raised the sales tax to help “close the budget gap.” Since then, sales tax revenues have fallen $436 million below projections, further widening the budget gap.
While California’s economy burns, Democrat politicians continue to sit atop their Sacramento tower doing nothing. They’re playing the same old tune about raising taxes and spending wildly.
Like Nero, the Democrats in Sacramento will blame our economic struggles on outsiders. California’s problems aren’t the result of years of overspending, or the highest state taxes in the nation, or excessive government regulations that cripple business.
No, our budget deficit and record unemployment are simply the result of an “international economic crisis.” To be clear, there is a severe global recession. But it does not account for the severity of economic destruction that California is experiencing.
Texas, another large state, also had to make budget cuts. They cut $1.6 billion to balance their budget—pocket change compared to California’s $24 deficit after already cutting billions.
Texas also passed a tax cut for small businesses because they realize that jobs and the economy are essential to the solution. Democrats in Sacramento are demanding tax increases, which will continue to kill job growth and hurt working families.
Our unemployment rate is now 11.5 percent. Unemployment in Texas is 7.1 percent. In fact, the rest of the country experienced a decrease in new unemployment claims last month. Not so for California. Our jobs continue to disappear into the smoke.
Sub-prime mortgages can no longer be blamed for this economic fire.
So who is to blame? The emperor. Democrats and their special-interest masters have set ablaze our state’s economy.
This is not to say that anyone wanted to send our state’s economy into freefall, but the out-of-control spending, over-taxation and extreme regulation that they enacted are now taking their toll.
This year, members of the majority party proposed over $210 billion in new spending, which would nearly triple total state spending. They have no problem holding press conferences about the budget crisis one day, and then proposing billions more the next day. Fiddle on, Democrats, fiddle on.
There is a way to stop the destruction. The next budget passed must cut large portions of state government and the majority party must stop spending. The first rule of getting out of holes: stop digging.
The Democrats in Sacramento have had their way for long enough and we can now clearly see the effects. They have run out of other people’s money.
If Democratic leaders in the legislature need help, they should listen to one of their own— State Treasurer Bill Lockyer. “My suggestion to you is don’t delay the pain,” Lockyer recently told Democrats. “It’s going to be worse if it doesn’t get done.”
In the Assembly, it takes 41 votes to make cuts or spend money. Today there are only 29 Republicans and 50 Democrats. Nothing is stopping the Democrats from balancing the state’s books without raising taxes.
It’s time for Democrats to trade in the torch and fiddle for a water bucket, which thus far they have been unwilling to do. Republicans deserve the chance to lead.
Assemblyman Joel Anderson, a Republican, represents District 77 in the California Legislature. Ramona is among communities in the 77th district.
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