Feb 28, 2011 5:43 PM GMT
Look at Rahm Emmanuel, newly elected mayor of Chicago. Chicago is a dark blue city in a deep blue state; Emmanuel is a career Democratic pol who served as chief of staff to the most liberal American president elected in many years. And what is Emanuel doing?
The mayor-elect was cagey on the subject during the campaign, but massive tax increases are off the table, and so are big bailouts from Washington DC. According to Time magazine, the campaign has spoken cryptically about saving $110 million from reducing “outdated and duplicative work processes to focus on front-line service delivery.” Translate that out of bureaucratic Newspeak and it means getting more work done with fewer people: layoffs. Emanuel says that the city’s generous pensions need to be preserved, but may also have to be, ahem, renegotiated. This does not sound like a renegotiation up.
Strip away the fluff and the rhetoric and it looks as though Chicago’s new mayor plans to balance the city budget primarily through layoffs and cutbacks.
Look at New York, the classically blue state where I live, home to liberal lions like Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Fiorello LaGuardia and Mario Cuomo. Here our new governor Andrew Cuomo is seeking major concessions and threatening layoffs against the public sector unions, vowing to balance the state’s budget with spending cuts. Cuomo has also promised — read his lips? — not to raise taxes, and has introduced what the New York Times editorial page calls a “radical” bill to cap property tax increases and require a super-majority to raise them by more than 2 percent a year. Up to 9,800 state employees face layoffs under his new budget: that is more than six times more people than Wisconsin governor Walker has threatened to lay off if his union bill isn’t passed.
Or go to Providence, Rhode Island, the deep blue capital of what a recent Gallup poll identified as, next to the District of Columbia and Vermont, the most liberal state in the nation, where the school board is notifying every single public school teacher in the city that they may be laid off.
From a state that is bluer than blue, ultraviolet Vermont, comes the news that Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democratic governor with solid Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature, will not solve his state’s fiscal problems with a tax increase. Why? As Politico reports, “We’ve already got a progressive income tax in Vermont, and we can’t get more progressive because we’ll lose the few payers that we have,” Shumlin said in between sessions at the National Governors Association meeting. “We don’t have any more tax capacity.”
“I can see New Hampshire from my house,” said the governor, noting that Vermont is already losing business, investments and residents to its low-tax neighbor.