Doyle’s debt – why can’t we borrow more?


Eliminating the deficit certainly doesn’t require eliminating debt, as the Wisconsin budget has proven. The Badger State, just like every man, woman and child on this side of the Pacific, has upped its debt recently. If you’re used to reading the national numbers on debt, the Sconnie numbers appear trifling at first.

By 2012, yearly payments on state debt will likely consume at least 4.5 percent of the state’s total income from taxes and fees, according to projections by the Legislature’s and Doyle’s budget offices. That’s 13 percent higher than the 4 percent threshold state officials have long considered to be a reasonable limit.

But then of course you realize that states aren’t supposed to take on debt the way the federal government does. Most of them are prohibited from running deficits, and frankly, if California has shown anything, states don’t have the same credit rating as the U.S. government.

But it’s an interesting idea to toy with. Because right wingers have generally been the only champions of the small federal government, there has been a total lack of discussion on the left about how to empower small governments to deliver to the people. I think it all comes down the Civil Rights movement, when we realized that an entire portion of the country was essentially disinterested in governing itself in accordance with the U.S. constitution. From that point on, any discussion of state rights governance was associated with the racist loons who cared about it the most.


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