One of the frustrating elements of the "recall-mania" sweeping Wisconsin is that it distracts everyone from actually focusing on the long-range future of the state. Rather than looking at ways to ensure we don't have the huge budget deficit again in just another few years, everyone is only concerned about maintaining their current political gains--or overturning everything that was done and going back to the very system that got us in that mess to begin with.
While Republicans are doing plenty of backslapping and self-congratulations over what was done in the last Legislative session, nothing came out of those two years that actually guarantees we won't face massive deficits again--or that local units of government won't be slamming us with ten percent property tax increases. Sure, there is another 37.5% to go before public sector employees pay as much for their health insurance as we do here in the private sector--and they've got about 90% to go on equalling our retirement contributions--but eventually you will reach that point...and then the argument about making things "fair" is lost.
Meanwhile, Democrats are offering only increases in business taxes as a way to pay for going back to the way things were before Act 10. Why is so little effort being put into developing a sustainable growth plan for state revenues so that public sector employees can actually get some pay increases now that we are almost back to "net zero" in the budgeting process? Even the most ardent union haters in the state aren't saying those employees should never get a raise ever again.
Once again, the Legislative session ended last week with any solutions to our long-term challenges being kicked farther down the road. If anything, the last week or so made things even worse! The expansion of Familycare will cost millions, Seniorcare will only keep getting more expensive--and with the full implementation of Obamacare coming in 2014, the demand for public health insurance programs like Badgercare will explode. And where is that cash coming from? There aren't enough evil billionaires and millionaires in the state to soak dry. Nor are there enough public employees to nickel and dime to death either.
Will we hear anything about the solutions to these impending disasters on the campaign trail this summer? I doubt it. It's easier to villainize the other side and argue about who "supports working families" more than it is to roll up your sleeves and be honest about what we can and cannot afford. Better to do some hard work now--than have to accomplish the impossible later.