Op / Ed: Leaving the GOP – Chadds Ford Live
What causes a longtime Republican to quit the Republican Party? Just look at the latest state budget.
I was a registered Republican for over 30 years. Now I am a registered libertarian. People often ask me why I changed. There are a number of reasons, but most fall under the category of disappointment at the utter failure of Republican candidates to uphold Republican principles once they take office. Of course, governing often requires compromises with the people across the aisle. I understand that sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward. However, I have found that even when Republicans don’t need to compromise, they still fail to meet the standards expected by voters who are loyal to them and their party.
If you ask a Republican what sets the Republican Party apart from the Democratic Party, one of the most common things you’ll hear about is “fiscal responsibility.”
This year, Pennsylvania’s Republican-led legislature passed a budget that is anything but fiscally responsible.
I believe “fiscal responsibility” means keeping the line on spending increases to keep them at or below the TABOR (Tax-Payers Bill-Of-Rights) index. This number, which is derived from the rate of inflation and the rate of population growth, is currently 1.79% for the state of Pennsylvania. Yet the latest budget, passed with the approval of a majority of Republicans in Harrisburg, increases spending by 8.8%.
If you think it’s okay to increase spending faster than the rate of inflation, there’s a good chance you’re a Democrat. If you think it’s okay to increase spending at or below the rate of inflation, chances are you’re a Republican. And if you think our goal should be to reduce the spending and size of government, (channeling Jeff Foxworthy here), you could JUST be a libertarian.
Yes. We have a Democratic governor, but the Republican majorities in the House and Senate are overwhelming. These legislative bodies simply have no excuse to allow spending increases of almost five times the TABOR index. The pandemic is coming to an end and the best thing the government can do to get us back to normal is to simply get out of the way.
I also believe that fiscal responsibility means paying down debt as quickly as possible in order to minimize interest charges. When you have the power to tax, combined with the ability to underfund pensions to balance the budget, it just doesn’t make sense to put money into a “rainy day” fund that earns a rate. less interest than you pay on any other debt. . Yet the latest budget, passed with the approval of a majority of Republicans in Harrisburg, puts $ 2.5 billion in the “rainy days” fund while the state still has various unpaid debts and a deficit of. $ 70 billion pension.
Most, if not all, of these debts have an effective interest rate greater than the rate of inflation. The government pension debt alone has an imputed interest rate of 7.25%, and it is highly unlikely that the rainy day fund will earn interest at a rate higher than inflation.
Ironically, much of our state’s debts were incurred in direct violation of article VIII, section 7 of the state constitution, which essentially says that the state cannot incur any long-term (unpaid) debt. during the same financial year) without a public referendum.
Maybe my memory is bad, but I don’t remember any such referendums since, well, as far back as I can remember. Still, the state has borrowed money from a variety of sources, including uncertain future tobacco settlement funds. But ignoring the state and federal constitution is a whole different category of Republicans’ grievances against elected Republicans that I’ll dive into on another day.
Dan Truitt is a former State Representative for the 156e
Legislative district which includes the township of Birmingham.