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They're ready to cut — are we ready to be cut?

Any yahoo politician can promise not to raise taxes, and usually does.

The question of cutting spending, on the other hand, is a little different.

In Washington, "anti-tax" Republicans can be just as good as Democrats at continuing to run up the debt.

Otherwise they really would have to cut stuff like Social Security and Medicare, and we would be mad at them.

As for Tallahassee …

Two years ago, the "conservative" Republicans who ran Tallahassee jacked up a bunch of fees on Floridians to balance their state budget, $2.2 billion worth. But, by gosh, they didn't "raise taxes."

Last year, those same Republicans sucked up as many billions of dollars as they could from the feds to balance their budget — all the time griping about how liberal the Democrats were for giving it to them!

This brings us to this year, and the big news:

There's a new crop of Republicans in town, and they say They Really Mean It.

Florida is running $3.6 billion short for the coming year's budget, according to the latest estimate. The final number could be more.

And yet every indication from Dean Cannon, the new speaker of our state House …

And Mike Haridopolos, the new president of our state Senate …

And Rick Scott, our new governor …

Every indication is that they intend to meet this shortfall largely by cutting spending.

Scott even says he can cut enough to meet the shortfall, yet keep cutting taxes to boot.

So if you're one of those folks convinced that taxes are too high, and that all government is filled with waste and liberals, this is great news.

On the other hand …

They ain't gonna be able to do it without cuts to the public sector in Florida that go way beyond anything we've seen so far. We're in for months of horror stories about how terrible these cuts are.

That means public schools, across the board. It means health care, probably turning over a lot more of the management of Medicaid to private corporations.

It means state prisons, too: It wouldn't be too surprising if somebody proposed privatizing the whole shebang.

It means courts, and state attorneys, and the parks, and the Highway Patrol, and everything else the state does.

It almost certainly means requiring state employees to contribute to their pensions. It might mean starting to move Florida away from a traditional pension altogether, as much of the private sector has done.

A lot of people will like all this, in concept. As it comes to affect us individually, it will be a different story. We all hate government spending — except for the parts we like.

So we are in for a big experiment in Florida over the coming year or so.

First we'll see whether the politicians really mean it.

Then we'll see whether we really mean it.

They're ready to cut — are we ready to be cut? 01/22/11 [Last modified: Sunday, January 23, 2011 1:03pm]
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