Fiscal Conservatism is a political position (primarily in the United States) that calls for lower levels of public spending, lower taxes and lower government debt. It is a variety of conservatism concerned with economic rather than social issues.
For all the national media and pundits who visit my humble little blog looking for Paul Ryan related news about his hometown, the core premise in this posting is one item you will most likely not find anywhere else. It is that Paul Ryan's local support base and his media enabler push a high tax agenda that would make most democrats blush.
Now going on two years, their agenda's talking points are editorialized on essentially two statements. One is a warning; IF area residents don't accept higher tax obligations, the local economy could "death spiral." Their words, not mine. And two; higher taxes spur growth and create prosperity. Sorry, but I have to repeat number two; higher taxes spur growth and create prosperity.
How's that for fiscal conservatism?
Now, those statements might not exactly be earth-shaking to the average political observer. After all, most people think Janesville (wrongly I should add) is a majority "progressive" union town with a splash of old school centrist democrats. Think retired state legislator Tim Cullen.
But the problem is, those policy statements come from the city's chamber of commerce, Forward Janesville, and the area's daily newspaper, the Janesville Gazette. Both of them, whose leadership/ownership are self-described fiscal conservatives veering from lean-to to staunch, also supported every local tax hike proposal since Scott Walker won election in 2010 - every. one. of. them. How does that work?
Here's an additional rub. Both entities, strongly representative of the area's business establishment, are virulent supporters of Paul Ryan and Scott Walker. To. The. Bone.
This context was uncovered by yours truly in late 2014 when the Janesville Gazette published an article that carried a warning statement from Forward Janesville operatives about the economic future of Janesville. This is when they said that without higher tax obligations, the local economy could death spiral.
Since then and through all of 2015, Forward Janesville and the Gazette have repeatedly doubled down on their support for higher local tax obligations on the Janesville population to the point where they're not even shy about it.
In an earlier article, Forward Janesville said they're willing to run cover for any public office holder or candidate willing to "step up" to bring higher tax obligations into reality for the I39/90 expansion. That's the same Forward Janesville who just a couple years earlier needed "tough" lawmakers to snooker taxpayers by defunding local roads, push enterprise zone credits, modify TIF provisions with the ability to transfer surpluses, and portable tax gimmicks for themselves. Are you still following this? I hope so.
Most recently, the Gazette issued their annual "10 principles" editorial and in it was their support for higher local tax burdens to fund incentives for economic development. They wrote, "the city council expects its investments to pay off eventually through higher property taxes and prosperity for residents." The point is of course, the Gazette's "conservatism" supports higher taxes under the exception that higher taxes will lead to prosperity. You know, even Obama couldn't get away with that one
The thing is, I would not be taking issue with their economic philosophy providing their government-dependent government-driven growth plans were consistent with the candidates and incumbents they endorse for major public offices.
Most of us know what Rep. Paul Ryan thinks about a government-driven economy ...
“If borrowing and spending and regulating and taxing was the secret to economic success, we would be entering a golden age along with Greece,” Ryan said. “It’s not, it doesn’t work. We need sound money, low tax rates, fiscal discipline, regulatory certainty and we need to stop this notion of a government-driven economy.”
Obviously, there's a serious philosophical chasm between Paul Ryan and his conservative hometown support base.
But let's not kid ourselves or turn a blind eye to what is happening here. The drive to raise income blind local taxes, property and sales taxes, utility and registration fees is part of the conservatives bogus "broaden the base - lower the rates" meme. Like many "pro-growth" communities with unsustainable plans, Janesville government has been broadening the tax base for many decades now unfortunately culminating in today's municipal wheel tax and referendum after referendum to increase operating revenue.
As a result, transfer creep of local wealth takes place. It requires a greater portion of earnings to pay taxes from those who earn less, thereby making them poorer with less money in their pockets to support the buy-local private sector.
That means more and more Janesville residents are coupon shopping and can only afford to spend at fast food chains and big box discounters. It's a vicious circle that in effect, is a very slick way to usher in race-to-the-bottom redistribution conservatism. The other thing is, the people seem to fall for it every time.
There's a lot wrong with all of this, but I'd like to at least see the Gazette's endorsed political candidates, particularly republicans they endorse including city council members vocalize their support or plan to raise taxes. In fact, they should make the "higher taxes lead to prosperity" their campaign theme.
UPDATE: Oops, I spoke too soon. The Janesville Gazette never saw a tax hike they didn't like. Today they endorsed a local sales tax hike to fix potholes. Remember that the Gazette endorsed Walker and told him to finish the job.
RNR - Local Conservatives: You Can See The Walker Difference At The IL-WI State Line