Tuesday, October 16, 2007

State Budget: What's Next?

As expected, the GOP Assembly shot down the compromise budget. A couple of Dems helped out, including my own representative Sheldon Wasserman.

So, what's next?

According to today's Wisconsin State Journal, "Huebsch said it remains unlikely he could ever accept a hospital tax because he fears it would drive up health-care costs in the long run."

I truly can't figure out the logic behind that claim. But since it doesn't look like Huebsch is going to budge, and the fact is he's the GOP's leader in the Assembly, it's time to start looking at what it would mean to drop the hospital assessment and lower the cigarette tax by 50 cents.

The impact would be on health care initiatives, of course, but the Dems need to ask the LFB for a specific analysis of what would be lost and they need to share that widely with the public.

This may sound trivial, but it would represent a significant shift in the Dem game plan. So far the Dem emphasis appears to be on the effects of not passing a budget. Not a bad line, but it doesn't quite stand up to the "protect the taxpayers" line coming from the GOP.

After all, no budget can be easily framed as a result of the partisan split in the legislature rather than the actions of one particular side of the aisle.

By putting an emphasis on services lost, without abandoning the focus on the need to get a budget passed, the Dems can help remind the public that fiscal policy isn't just a one-sided equation.

Once that view is established, a new budget should be drafted without the hospital assessment and with the lowered cigarette tax. That budget could then go on record as the budget that cut health care initiatives, rather than the one that "protected taxpayers," which is the way the GOP would surely like to frame it.

It's time to get something done, and the Dems have enough votes on the record to demonstrate to voters that they were in favor of passing the health care initiatives but couldn't due to the partisan split in the legislature, which is something that only can be addressed at election time.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's next? Doyle talked today of a partial state government shutdown -- even the UW, everything but prisons.

(You have to go to Madison media to find out about it, of course -- nothing in the Journal Sentinel yet, maybe never. . . .)

I'm going to call it Owen's Shutdown in honor of his BS blog that helped to bring this on.

October 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seth,

You are getting close to jumping your insight shark.

You are also drifting close to cluelessness on the the hospital TAX ... you know, the one that will pay for more marble without REDUCING costs...

Keep cogitating, this will all make sense to you if you just work it through.

October 16, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Without reducing costs, huh. Is that why at least one health system in the Milwaukee area has already said that it would reduce costs, and others have indicated the same? You know, it's that whole "hidden health care tax" thing that conservatives at least used to acknowledge exists.

But keep up the baseless rhetoric, Anon. I mean, really, why should you actually take the time to explain yourself? You're way too good for that; you're protecting the taxpayers, damn it!

October 17, 2007  
Blogger Jack Lohman said...

So Huebsch thinks a hospital tax will drive up health care costs, but he and his Republican cohorts refuse to support Healthy Wisconsin, a plan that would drive health care costs down?

This group of Republicans don't want tax increases that have been necessitated by the legislative giveaways under the Republican/Thompson regime. Now's a great time to get religion.

Perhaps we should follow the campaign money on this one, especially from Philip Morris.

We need a new assembly in 2008, and the Republicans are helping us get there.

October 17, 2007  
Blogger Erik Opsal said...

Don't you get it? It doesn't matter of costs go down or up, the buzzword is still going to be "tax, tax, tax!"

They couldn't see Healthy WI for what it was and only talked about taxes. Now they lie and say this tax actually drives up health care costs.

Huebsch hears the word "budget" and immediately screams "tax!" It's ridiculous.

October 17, 2007  

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