The estate tax, local governments, and creating your own reality

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A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a friend and he mentioned how he always thought it became clear during the Bush administration we were in for some rough years ahead when an administration spokesperson was quoted as saying that the administration was going to create its own reality. From the administration’s perspective neigh-sayers lived in a reality based world were they are forced to study the facts given to them and make appropriate decisions based on them. The Bush administration felt that was unnecessary. Why be burdened by the facts when you can simply create your own reality and to a certain extend that is exactly what the Bush administration did for eights years.

This idea of creating one’s own reality is a tactic that Republicans have been using for a long time now. This fact was driven home today when I came to the end of a Toledo Blade article about the local governments that had come before the Senate Finance Committee to plead for more money for them in the state budget.

Asked what message she would give to local officials, Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, vice-chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, said: “We have less money, and we have to continue to look for ways to provide flexibility for local communities to manage through these tough times. We can’t just talk about this as a revenue issue.”

What really struck me about this quote is that Sen. Jones, and all Republicans in the legislature, truly believe we have a revenue problem. They honestly believe that there is simply nothing that can be done to direct more funds toward local governments.

The problem is, this isn’t true at all. In the same budget that Sen. Jones is talking about she, and the Republican Caucus, continue to support the cut in the income tax and totally getting rid of the estate tax. Under the current budget the local government fund, the fund the state uses to funnel funds to local governments, will collect over $250 million from the estate tax alone. This money will disappear if the estate tax is not reinstated though. While implementing the final reduction of the income tax will lead to a loss of $400 million each year to the General Revenue Fund that could have been directed toward local governments. It is hard to believe that there is nothing that Republicans could have done to direct more funds to local governments when they are the ones that decided those revenue streams were not needed anymore.

This mentality is exactly what creating one’s own reality looks like. Ohio Republican’s believe that if they simply keep saying that the only way to help local governments is to give them the tools to get through these tough times then that will be the new reality. The problem is that these tough times are being made even worse by this budget and those tools aren’t really going to help at all. While the rest of us live in a reality based world and look at the facts and see that they don’t add up to what the Republicans are saying, Sen. Jones and her colleagues are simply creating their own world were the facts do add up and will continue to do so.

The sad fact is if Republican’s had simply not done anything, had not gotten rid of the estate tax and kept the income tax rate as it had been, the cuts to local governments would not be nearly as severe. When you live in a fantasy world where you get to make up the facts you get to decide the outcome of the game before it even starts. Republicans have for a long time continued the theory of trickle down economics and these cuts are simply another version of those ideas. Sadly, for the rest of us who live in reality we have 20 years worth of evidence now that points to the fact that the only thing that trickling is poverty and that is on the rise.


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  1. Of course, Gov. Strickland’s $250 million per year property tax cut for wealthy homeowners has done the same thing. Half a billion per budget that could go to help locals instead goes to corporate CEO’s property tax bills. When will Ohio’s Democratic leaders try to repeal this giveaway?

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