The right is just wrong on the state budget
Charlie Sykes was in a lather this morning on his talk show about the state budget. He kept saying Governor Doyle lied and the press bought it. He even had Rep. Mark Green call in to give the sour grapes analysis. Then he produced what he said was the 'smoking gun' to prove the media committed malpractice.
What was his proof? This letter to the editor that George Mitchell sent to newspapers, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel didn't run it. No wonder the right thinks there is liberal bias in the news. They believe every time their own words aren't used it's a scandal.
Sykes' blog post title about it is so over the top it makes it sound like someone was killed - What Did They Know And When Did They Know It?
Here's what they did know and it was true - the budget for this cycle was balanced. The "deficit" they are talking about is future commitments for the state. And as Doyle pointed out in one of the debates, it would be irresponsible for the state not to have long-term plans for budgeting on some items. That doesn't mean we have to pay for them this minute.
Former Governors Thompson and McCallum didn't pay for the things in the budget cycles they were in, but Governor Doyle is expected to pay for things in the future. Yeah, that's fair.
Mitchell uses a family budget analogy to try to drive home his point, but his analogy is a little off. He likens the structural deficit to annual spending a family does beyond their annual income and uses credit cards or savings to pay for it. But a family spending too much money on a vacation and putting it on their credit card is not what the structural deficit is for the state.
The better comparison would be the balance on a car loan for the family vehicle. The family does owe that money, but it doesn't have to pay it all tomorrow. To get to the really big number being thrown around for the structural deficit, you'd also have to add in things the family will spend money on such as food and utilities during the next year.
The Doyle team did not lie or try to hide the structural deficit for next year either. Mitchell's own letter says that Doyle's budget director told everyone that there will be a structural deficit.
Is the budget perfect yet, no. It probably never will be either no matter what party is writing it. But the press didn't give Governor Doyle a pass on this issue. The press gave Governor Doyle the credit he deserves for getting the state going in the right direction again after years of mismanagement by Thompson and McCallum.
Seth takes a look at the so-called bias on budget reporting here and Jay looks deeper into the budget costs that feed into the structural deficit here.