Last week I failed to mention one of my favorite arguments from government-for-all-seasons types. It’s reflected in the title of that Dispatch story I cited: Protesters rally to protect safety-net services.
What’s a “safety-net service,” exactly? Bulletproof tenure and longevity raises, come Hell or high water? Eighteen bucks an hour for data entry or filing paperwork? Generous defined-benefit retirement plans? Ted Strickland, co-founder of a new think tank called Innovation Ohio and newest member of the Washington, D.C. Bipartisan Policy Center’s Health Project, had this to say upon passage of Obamacare:
No longer will insurance companies decide who gets quality health care in this country and who does not. [...] I applaud Congress for standing up for Ohioans’ right to affordable, quality health care. And I admire President Obama for his leadership in achieving comprehensive health care reform.
My ellipsis skips a lot of promises, but the first one alone is a bank-breaker. How is insurance really “insurance” if “insurers” have no control over their risk? Oh well; Strickland knows a thing or two about what government can and cannot afford. The health care bill is just the latest, largest example of politicians writing checks the taxpayers will be forced to cash.
This horrifying little graphic was featured in yesterday’s aptly titled USA Today story, Our view on public pensions: Lavish benefits hurt states:
Keep that $19.5 billion unfunded liability in mind when you hear protesters bellowing about evil Republican cuts to the “safety net.” Should taxpayers suffer so unreasonable public pension promises can be kept? At some point, the entitlement and public employee safety net stopped being for safety and became just a net. A couple of charts from The Tax Foundation clarify Ohio’s recent history of taxation and spending:
Ohio politicians have fallen into a common trap: who wouldn’t be generous, given a bag of other people’s money? Governor Kasich is right to keep higher taxes off the table. As for the “safety net” and a certain audience’s insistence that it surround us all: charity’s a task ill-suited for government. The big question today is whether our new governor and the General Assembly can cut enough netting for Ohioans to stay here willingly!