Revisionist history from Rep. Amstutz in the Dispatch this weekend


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I know today is going to be a really busy day with the Senate coming out and announcing the changes they have made to the budget. Before we start on all that fun I just wanted to take a minute and direct your attention to a letter that was published in the Dispatch this weekend by the Chairman of the House Finance Committee Rep. Ron Amstutz. The letter is in reaction to a letter that was published a couple of weeks ago from former Speaker of the House Armond Budish. In Rep. Amstutz’s letter he attacks the former Speaker for causing the $8 billion hole in the budget that Republicans had to find ways to fill. Oddly though, Rep. Amstutz’s letter is full of half truths and out right cherry picking of information.

Lets’s take a look at some of the highlights, or lowlights, it matters where you are sitting I suppose:

First of all, Budish’s “facts” refer to a specific portion of the budget, the general-revenue fund, which accounts for less than half of total state spending. In the upcoming fiscal year, the total spending is actually $3 billion less in the first year vs. current spending. In fact, Budish’s House increased total spending by $6.4 billion this year vs. last year, only magnifying our current economic crisis.

To clarify, the Speaker in his letter said the Republicans are increasing GRF by about $5 billion over the biennium. Which, is true. But Chairman Amstutz doesn’t want you to look at this number.  Instead he wants you to look at the all funds group, which is GRF plus all other revenue streams in the budget, and look at the decrease in that. This argument over who decreased what by how much is not all the interesting really. The main point is the reason GRF is going up in this budget is because the steps Budish and the Democrats took during the worst recession on record is allowing the economy to bounce back and thus increasing tax revenue for the state. Which is another point that the Chairman criticizes the former Speaker on:

Second, unemployment was at 9.4 percent by the end of Budish’s term as speaker — much higher than the 8.6 percent when he started. During that time, readers’ income taxes were retroactively increased by almost $900 million.

Now, this comment alone should give pause to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past three years.

Where to start, first as the Speaker correctly points out in his letter unemployment fell for the 13th month in a row last month. 13 months. No one with a straight face can possibly argue that any of that decrease can be attributed to a budget that hasn’t been enacted yet.

Second, the Chairman is right that unemployment went up while Speaker Budish had the gavel? Yes, that is correct. Anyone who takes this stuff seriously would argue that it didn’t go up because of the actions taken by the Speaker but because he took over in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression that started while Republicans ran BOTH the House and the Senate. So, the economic downturn started while Republicans ran the House but they don’t get to shoulder any of the blame because the person who came in to clean up their mess didn’t do it to their liking so it must be that person’s fault? Right. Good one.

Which brings me to my last point. Chairman Amstutz lays into the former Speaker pretty hard for the use of $8 billion in one time federal funds in the current budget. If the accepting the federal funds was such a horrible decision by the Speaker and Governor Strickland than it was equally has horrible for all the Republican governors that did the same thing. Right? Or not if we have no intentions of having an adult conversation about this stuff.

Again, the reason Ohio had to accept those funds was because while President Bush handed the worst economy in American since the 1930’s to President Obama and the Democrats something had to be done to stop the bleeding. Virtually all economists agree that had the government not stepped in and flushed billions of dollars into the economy in those two years things would be a lot worse right now.

Imagine a child who is holding a gallon of milk and then they drop it and the milk spills everywhere. Now imagine an adult running over to clean it up and while you are in the middle of cleaning the mess up the child starts crying that you aren’t cleaning it up fast enough and why did you cause it to spill it’s milk. You wouldn’t stand there and argue about who spilled the milk right? You would just say I didn’t do that, you did, now go away so I clean this mess up. That’s what this argument always makes me think about.

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