State spending cap a good idea

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● Help me think. Excluding anything to do with the personal lives of celebrity athletes and entertainers, has more ink been spilled needlessly on any issue more frivolous than voter ID? The Georgia Supreme Court this week joined others in smacking down the whiners who kept arguing that somebody somewhere would be kept from voting because of the requirement — but could never produce a living soul. Or, heck, even a dead one.

● A cap on state spending, as proposed by State Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, would be an admirable addition to the state Constitution. The proposal is so flexible that only the most partisan proponents of big government can find objection. Spending is limited to the highest previous budget or to the previous year’s, plus population growth and the rate of government inflation. Collections above that will go to pay for increased school enrollment, retire debt and build the state’s “rainy day fund” to 15 percent of the budget (up from 10 percent now). When the rainy day fund’s exhausted, the Legislature by a two-thirds vote can waive the spending cap. In an emergency, that’ll happen. Besides, 15 percent reserves will ordinarily keep governors and legislators from having to make really tough budget cuts.

● Arguing against proposed changes in the HOPE program, the former president’s grandson, state Sen. Jason Carter, sounds a lot older than his 35 years. In fact, he sounds a lot like the politicians of yesteryear. Said the young throwback: “There is no doubt if we cut HOPE …there will be some students who won’t graduate from college because they can’t afford it.” A student so easily dissuaded may not have been college material to start with — and, furthermore, will have some real coping issues with adult life. Politicians always seem to be solving, or proposing to solve, problems that existed in their childhood — or before they were born.

● If one of those college enrollees who’s freaked out by a slight decrease in HOPE handouts is looking for a career alternative — though, fair warning, it does involve work — Kennesaw’s Superior Plumbing is begging for qualified plumbers. The job offers good pay and virtual lifetime security. Skilled machinists are in demand, too. The downside to those jobs is that you stay too busy to go downtown to boo and hiss state legislators while insisting that “fairness” demands that you be given more public money.

● Georgia has a projected deficit of $250 million in its $3 billion health benefits program for state employees. Since the state can’t print money or run a deficit, the proposed solution is to raise premiums for current employees and retirees. Legislators could make a contribution by eliminating taxpayer-provided health care coverage for themselves and for other part-timers whose primary employment is elsewhere.

● As the nation comes to grip with the terrible debt that we’re allowing to be passed on to the unborn, the media really does incur an obligation to be responsible stewards of information. It’s awfully easy for journalists to rush out and find “victims” of heartless government — and, in fact, advocacy groups will produce them on cue — for quick stories allegedly detailing the impact of spending reductions. Most journalists lack the expertise to assess the real impact or to know, for example, that the job training program is one of 47 and may or may not be effective for “victim’s problem.” Another problem is that such stories are often a fact or two shy of providing the context that would allow us to know. The point really is that if we’re going to be a nation of adults making responsible choices, we have to know if programs work. Otherwise we’re teaching people how to game the system.

136 comments Add your comment

Velma

March 10th, 2011
7:16 pm

And yet the Georgia Legislature is more concerned about limiting a woman’s right to an abortion… Thanks Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville for curtailing women’s rights, for knowing better than anyone else in the medical community when a woman should get an abortion and for shoving your extreme right wing agenda down the throats of all Georgians… I guess that is FAR more important than fixing this State’s broken economy. It’s like living under the thumb of the Taliban.

Cutty

March 10th, 2011
7:36 pm

You sound like a cranky, old man telling some kids to get off you lawn. Republicans are in complete control of the state. All of your fantasies of screwing over everyone but the rich is coming true.

http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/bill-would-allow-utilities-852605.html

old timer

March 10th, 2011
7:59 pm

Welll written…..I agree with every point…

Rafe Hollister

March 10th, 2011
8:05 pm

Relax Cutty, the country is in such bad shape due to two years of the three stooges(Barry, Nancy, and Harry) in charge at the national level, that the local yokels can’t really make it that much worse.

MiltonMan

March 10th, 2011
8:10 pm

Jason Carter is a moron – plain and simple. The only reason the clown is a senator is the brain dead idiots in DeKalb elected him. If he truly cared about a quality education for the children , he would focus his efforts on the crappy schools within DeKalb. This state and nation has already suffered with one Carter – we don’t need another one.

killerj

March 10th, 2011
8:56 pm

Cha-Ching……….,the sound of your Tax money going to “BIG BROTHER” Government.Go Tea Party,bankruptcy is coming.

Lawrence

March 10th, 2011
8:58 pm

Good Blog…As usual I agree with you.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

March 10th, 2011
9:13 pm

Well, we don’t need to be spending good money on sending a bunch of brats to colledge so they can get all librul and look down their nose at us working folks. They need to do away with this Hope scam completely.

And I’m for a spending cap. Make it, say, the amount of the 1966 state budget. Let’s get the deadbeats and Those People off the dole and onto working for their room and board and medical care.

And make the worthless guvmint workers pay for all their health insurance. Maybe some of them will quit and that will be a good thing.

Which reminds me, what happened to Gov. Deal’s plan to cut 20,000 state jobs? I ain’t heard a thing about it ever since he took office and got on the state payroll. Was that one of the promises the politicans make with their fingers crossed behind them?

lynnie gal

March 10th, 2011
10:00 pm

So, Jim, your advice to college kids who are losing money for college is–go get a job as a plumber? You’re an idiot. It looks like you want to dumb down more people and put them in subservient jobs in Georgia so that your Republican base grows bigger. The wealthy and dumb people. That’s the new Republican party.

Tall

March 10th, 2011
10:05 pm

“Georgia has a projected deficit of $250 million in its $3 billion health benefits program for state employees.”

Three billion dollars to cover state employees? How many state employees are there? I know that doesn’t cover the employees of the incorporated cities. We just might as well enjoy our trip to hell because that is the only thing that will bring people to their senses.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 10th, 2011
10:18 pm

Good evening all. Our host offers a challenge, “has more ink been spilled needlessly on any issue more frivolous than voter ID?” I’ll have to think. Maybe “the need to control our borders.” Maybe “the problem of marijuana” – that one goes back decades. Maybe “Sunday alcohol sales.”

I will always support spending caps at the state level – states rarely have wars that must be fought, and that preservation of freedom is the only real justification for confiscation of private wealth.

Instead of preserving HOPE, we ought to abolish college – that would ensure no one has an advantage over another. No, of course I am not serious, I am challenging the mindset that underpins all leftist “thought.”

I’ve frequently told my sons, as they grew up, that if I were doing it over again I would have learned auto mechanics instead of going to law school. I figure if one intends to hold a license to steal, it ought to be for a trade for which there is some measurable return to the victim.

Re the health benefits deficiency, rather than raise “premiums” and keep the same incentives for individuals to spend “other people’s money,” would it not be more prudent to raise deductibles instead, so the spenders see that they have some skin in the game? The annual contribution/outlays would be the same, but the incentives are changed.

“Most journalists lack the expertise to assess the real impact” – they phrase resonates. Even if the journalist have the requisite expertise, “real impacts” – i.e., economics – do not sell papers or air time – not sexy enough, not Oprah-ish enough. Whose ratings are higher, the enthusiastic and cerebral John Stossel, or the empathetic-but-dim Oprah?

Tall

March 10th, 2011
10:20 pm

To Lynnie gal:

You ought to give Mr. Wooten’s remarks a little more thought. I have neighbors who spend good money sending their kids to private grade and high schools in order to get the HOPE scholarship so they have less of a college tuition bill. The HOPE has turned college into another entitlement program and should be scrapped. When I graduated from high school in 1978, I couldn’t afford to go the private college I had my heart set on. My choice was to go to the local community college for the first two years, save money and get the best grades I could. I did that and wound up graduating from New York University with very little student loan debt at that time. My only complaint about the community college at that time, had to do with the slacker attitudes of many of the students that were there.

There is nothing wrong with learning a trade. Of all the contractors I have hired out, plumbers get paid more money for less work than any of them. Come to think of it, even the physicians I go to charge less than plumbers. I have relatives who done very well in welding, lawn mower repair and commercial construction.

Guy Fawkes

March 10th, 2011
10:54 pm

Velma: Actually, if you were really living under the thumb of the Taliban, you wouldn’t be typing comments on a blog. Or have a computer with which to read this blog. Or, for that matter, you might not even have thumbs (or fingers) with which to type said comments.

But don’t let that slow your hyperbole.

Guy Fawkes

March 10th, 2011
11:04 pm

lynnie gal: Your snooty disrespect for plumbers is telling. Either you hold too many degrees or you haven’t ever had a pipe blow out in a property you owned (or both). Plumbers make good money, have a concrete and monetizable skill, and typically don’t hurt for business even in a down economy. In short, they are typically productive, tax paying citizens–not dummies. They are also well known for asking insightful and confounding questions of overhyped left-wing politicians.

captguitarman

March 11th, 2011
12:04 am

Jim, I’m still laughing out loud. Did I get that right. You said that Georgia legislators could give up taxpayer subsidized health care (my guess is that it is really, really good coverage) from their part time jobs, and go with their primary employer’s insurance (which might not be near so good, and certainly not as cheap for a good program), so the rank and file full time state employees won’t be hit so hard by a health insurance premium increase????? By gosh, I went back and read it again, and darned if you didn’t write that. What water fountain have you and Kyle Wingfield been drinking out of there at the AJC? Must be some Mary Jane in it or something. Kyle was wondering why the new stadium (full of some really great Gold Dome “bidness” opportunities) might be pushed aside for some higher and more important priorities. I’ll ask you the same question I asked him. Don’t you know what state you are living in yet? But thanks for the good laugh.

David Granger

March 11th, 2011
12:47 am

The reason some people are so incensed over the voter ID requirement is not because they’re afraid illegal aliens might not get to vote. Most illegals are trying to be as “invisible” as possible, and not rock the boat by trying to sneak into a polling place. What the giggle-sissy liberals are all afraid of is that it might well put a stop to them just going down to the homeless shelters and the blood plasma banks and filling up busload after busload of people to go and vote “the right way” and earn themselves a little “walking around” money.

BitterEXdemocrackkk

March 11th, 2011
6:15 am

college educations are NOT a Constitutional REQUIREMENT….NOR…show they be taxpayer burdens! enough!

Will

March 11th, 2011
6:25 am

You asked for it.

More wasted ink?

The republican obsession with President Obama’s birth. Wouldn’t you like to ask the sponsor of the republican birther legislation if this legislation ever passed (and even within the totally republican dominated state government this is unlikely) would the sponsor be willing to put his money where his mouth is and pledge to offset the legal fees the state would incur as a result of this “law” by either paying out of his own pocket or working to reduce state spending in, oh I don’t know, how about vouchers for private school attendance?

BitterEXdemocrackkk

March 11th, 2011
6:36 am

Now, Ohblunder says HE was ‘bullied’ as a child with BIG ears…

Since WHEN did such a silly part of life become a national agenda issue???
Is his incompetence a result of bullying or did it teach him to be one???

Is Van Jones a bully? Harry Reid? Nancy Pelousi? Wm Ayers? ‘Rev’ Wright?

Democrats are bullies against America.

Mr. Dithers

March 11th, 2011
6:50 am

I’m with Will on this one. More ink, breath, noise and anxiety has been wasted on the birther issue than any other frivilous matter in recent times. The fact that so much time and energy is still being wasted on it, including here in our fair state, is a true indication of the actual agenda the GOP is pushing. Where are the jobs? Where is the attention to the economy, etc.? Nowhere to be found. Instead, they’re spending their time on unconstitutional ballot laws and anti-immigration bills. Talk about bait and switch.
It’s fascinating that the bogeymen for all our budget woes are now college students and state workers. I’m sure that all of Georgia’s problems could be solved by eliminating state government entirely, starting with Gov. Deal and going right down the line. Privatize the roads and cut out everything else. Just a modest proposal.

Mr. Dithers

March 11th, 2011
6:52 am

Bitter I’m guessing you were a bully, not bullied, growing up. Otherwise, you wouldn’t call it silly. It sure isn’t silly for the kids who are being bullied, Especially those driven to suicide.

Mid GA Retiree

March 11th, 2011
7:02 am

I wonder how many of those protesting HOPE cuts actually go out and by lottery tickets. Some seem to have forgotten (me included) that lottery money funds HOPE. I would suggest that the law creating HOPE be amended to divert more lottery money from prizes and administrative costs to education expenses.
Regarding state employees’ health insurance costs, deductibles have been going up as fast as premiums. The problem is that the legislature has diverted money from the health insurance fund to other areas to try to balance the budget; they have done the same thing to the employees’ retirement system.
Finally, plumbers work hard, make good money, and work in “stuff” most of us would never dare put our hands in. Hope Linnie gal never needs one.

Mr. Dithers

March 11th, 2011
7:28 am

Can you believe it? Even in the course of reporting on the tragedy and devastation in Japan this morning, CNN is inserting propoganda like “Hawaii is President Obama’s home” into its reporting. Will they never stop this insidious plan to cover up the truth?

The Great and Powerful Community Organizer

March 11th, 2011
7:30 am

On Libya, I vote PRESENT. I’m waiting to see what Denmark does. lol…I’m no leader. Ooops, outta here, gotta get a little golf game in.

Buzz G

March 11th, 2011
7:32 am

Jason Carter must make his grandpa proud. He is just as goofy. Doubtless his answer to the energy shortage is to force everyone to wear sweaters.

And his answer to the illegal alien crisis is to ignore it.

Bookman-Tucker-Luckovich

March 11th, 2011
7:38 am

ALL HAIL THE GREAT AND POWERFUL COMMUNITY ORGANIZER!!!!

Road Scholar

March 11th, 2011
7:41 am

Mr Dumba$$, er Mr dithers: If you back the normal 9 month pregnancy from Pres Obama’s birthday, you will find that both his mother and father were in Hawaii when he was conceived! Did you get that? He was conceived in the US.

Then your ascertain would be that even though he was conceived on US soil he isn’t a citizen. OK? Then your ascertain reinforces that a fetus is not a person/life and abortion is not a crime of murder,…since a fetus is not a person! So all the fuss over abortion is not applicable since the fetus is not a person!

Thank you John Stewart!

School Teacher

March 11th, 2011
7:55 am

Milton Man, tell us how you really feel.

WHY? RNC is Y

March 11th, 2011
7:57 am

“somebody somewhere would be kept from voting because of the requirement — but could never produce a living soul. Or, heck, even a dead one”…..

Want Evidence? How about the history of all the elections that ever took place in the US since George Washington.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 11th, 2011
7:58 am

Dear Will @ 6:25 and others, “The republican obsession with President Obama’s birth. ” I think almost all of that ink has been spilled by leftists, disputing the issue that isn’t. A typical Wizard of Oz trick.

Bookman-Tucker-Luckovich

March 11th, 2011
7:59 am

WHY? RNC is Y

Where’s your evidence genius? You made a statement. NO evidence.

WHY? RNC is Y

March 11th, 2011
8:04 am

Jim Wooten cautions a person “looking for a career alternative — though, fair warning, it does involve work — Kennesaw’s Superior Plumbing is begging for qualified plumbers.”

Jim can be a real condescending butt crack sometimes, you know?

Road Scholar

March 11th, 2011
8:06 am

” Help me think.”

I don’t know if anyone has that much energy!

WHY? RNC is Y

March 11th, 2011
8:10 am

Jim last paragraph said absolutely nothing at all. nothing. I dare anyone to paraphrase it.

Caution: It’s a trap. He did it on purpose to see if 100% of his readers are morons.

Bookman-Tucker-Luckovich

March 11th, 2011
8:16 am

“..Jim last paragraph said absolutely nothing at all. nothing. I dare anyone to paraphrase it…”

You must be a Lib, no way you would comprehend it.

WHY? RNC is Y

March 11th, 2011
8:17 am

” A student so easily dissuaded may not have been college material to start with — and, furthermore, will have some real coping issues with adult life.”

That statement is pure abuse. It contains many presumptive delusions and self-validation tells. No wonder RIF is being defunded. The RNC needs more morons.

NIght Train

March 11th, 2011
8:19 am

Why and Lynnie, Don’t diss the working man (person) just because they get their hands dirty. Plumbers or any other skilled trades that works with their hands are honorable trades. Without them the over educated bunch of wussies would be living in poop and walking everywhere. My grandfather was a plumber and raised 6 kids. He use to joke that he could make anyone an expert plumber in 5 minutess. All you need to know are 3 simple rules:

1- Hot on the left
2- Cold on the right
3- Liberal BS flows down hill

Now Lynnie, you are and expert plumber!

Bookman-Tucker-Luckovich

March 11th, 2011
8:20 am

“…The RNC needs more morons…”

Probably true. Seems the DNC is overflowing with morons.

Mr. Dithers

March 11th, 2011
8:22 am

Road Scholar, I’m with you. The post was supposed to be sarcastic. Sorry that didn’t come through.

Mr. Dithers

March 11th, 2011
8:24 am

Who will be the first Republican/conservative/Tea Partier to say we shouldn’t help the Japanese people because they bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941? I mean, since the president is offering support, the knee jerk reaction to oppose him will kick in shortly, I’m sure.

Bookman-Tucker-Luckovich

March 11th, 2011
8:28 am

Mr Dithers

Seems the first “knee jerk” reaction has come from you.

WHY? RNC is Y

March 11th, 2011
8:41 am

The “terrible debt” is all from Bush’s 8 nightmare years, a regime from which the country may never fully recover.

ThinkingLight

March 11th, 2011
8:42 am

Jim should rename the column “Thinking Light”. Nothing of substance, only lightweight straw man arguments. Week after week after week. Weak after weak after weak.

Bookman-Tucker-Luckovich

March 11th, 2011
8:44 am

“..The “terrible debt” is all from Bush’s 8 nightmare years, a regime from which the country may never fully recover…”

The Dems controlled the spending from 2006-2010.

JP

March 11th, 2011
8:48 am

Don’t know about all the other stuff in th ecolumn, but I have a heck of a lot of respect for plumbers, electricians, mechanics, roofers, and the like. I’ve tried to fix my plumbing myself, fix my car myself, and fix my roof myself, and I always walk away saying :”should have hired a pro…..”

jt

March 11th, 2011
8:55 am

Work as a plumber?

Not that easy……Pay the state exhorbiant amounts of money, jump through their stupid hoops for years,grovel at the feet for previously “liscensed” plumbers………..and then the state MIGHT grant you permission.

Here in the land of the free, It is against the law to hire a person to fix your kitchen drain without the state’s permission.This serves “Kennesaw Plumbing” well.

Not so the citizen.

Peter

March 11th, 2011
8:55 am

Jim….. Republicans will never honestly admit to themselves the Bush administration starting 2 wars while cutting taxes, has hung America out to dry.

Cheney famously said……”Deficits are not a problem ” .

Now we have the looser in the last election saying we need to get involved in yet another war.

When is the madness from the Right going to end ?

Road Scholar

March 11th, 2011
8:55 am

Dithers: I was on my first cup of coffee!

MiltonMan

March 11th, 2011
8:56 am

Mr Dithers should rename himself to the more appropriate Mr. Clueless:

“Nowhere to be found. Instead, they’re spending their time on unconstitutional ballot laws…”

Unconstitutional??? The GA supreme court has yet again ruled the GA voter ID law constitutional. Where were you when Rat Roy Barnes passed his unconstitutional redistricting maps back in 2000?

Let me guess, he is a by-product of the APS. His teachers had to change his test scores for him to graduate.

Bookman-Tucker-Luckovich

March 11th, 2011
8:57 am

National Debt

07/22/2009 11,634,723,000,000.00
09/30/2008 10,024,724,896,912.49
09/30/2007 9,007,653,372,262.48
09/30/2006 8,506,973,899,215.23

Hmmm.