Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,
So, finally, for the first time in modern history, there may be two-thirds Democratic majorities in each house after next year’s elections. Are you happy?
–Wondering in Westminster

Dear Wondering,
I’m so happy I could spit.

It’s been a long-time coming, as my favorite pock-marked singer noted in the 1960s. When you follow the money, as I do feverishly with every waking moment, the only way you get to Heaven is with two-thirds majorities, although it helps to have a Democratic governor to make sure you’re spending enough. But lately, Heaven has had to wait.  Looks like 2012 may be a magic year.

I’ve long been a believer in taxing and spending and borrowing.

Public funds should be invested in the public, not retained in private. A public dollar invested now in schools or highways will more than repay itself later on. A dollar spent to get people working will recoup $3 later in tax revenue.  Money to cover college students’ costs – I love college students, as you know – will bring money back to the General Fund when those same students are working. Look at the GI Bill. I rest my case.

I especially love borrowing. As Ralph Dills used to say, always borrow whenever you can, never spend your own money and get into real estate. This is good advice. It was good when I got it from Ralph Dills in 1967 – and he should know, he was a judge – and nothing I’ve seen since then has proved it wrong. The debt ceiling debate in Washington is a perfect example: Borrow the money and go home, and let the ceiling rise. End of problem.

The problem is, we get into heavy partisanship here.

The truth is, Republicans position themselves as the best stewards of the public treasury and know little about it. Republicans sign no-tax pledges and go to their constituents as prudent and savvy, when in fact they know little about how money is made and invested. Democrats don’t know how to make it either, but at least they do know how to spend it.

That brings us to Warren Buffett, who wrote last week that the super-rich should be taxed more, not less, and that they don’t need a bunch of Republican politicians running around trying to protect the wealthy from new taxes. The billionaire Buffett basically shot down the anti-tax, pro-business arguments of Republicans. It’s a little hard to attack Buffett as poorly versed in business – even Congressional Republicans figured that out – so they went after him as inciting “class warfare.” Fox News picked up the “class warfare” theme, too.

Buffett, of course, gives good quote. During the earlier stages of the economic meltdown in 2007, he noted that the dwindling of assets revealed flaws in the economic system. “When the tide goes out, we find out who’s been swimming without a bathing suit,” he wrote.

Indeed, we do, and that brings us back to the two-thirds majorities.

The super majorities will give us all a better bathing suit, and if the tide goes out – or stays out – we’ll still be able to keep swimming, although a little further from shore. This is deep.
I’m not inclined to want to see anybody in the Assembly or Senate in a bathing suit – except for a few staff members – but I’ll make the sacrifice if it comes to putting together two-thirds votes for the state budget.

My fingers are crossed.


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