Voices of Alaska: Competing visions

  • By Tuckerman Babcock
  • Tuesday, June 13, 2017 9:49am
  • Opinion

My old friend from Steller Alternative High School, Andy Josephson, now a Democrat Representative from District 17 in Anchorage, wrote an opinion piece regarding taxes, a looming government shutdown, and differences between the Republican Senate and Democratic House.

He spoke of competing visions. As chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, I am inspired to weigh in on the question of competing visions.

Rep. Josephson’s vision is of a state operating budget totally immune during this recession.

His is a vision where everyone else has to pay more to preserve government. On the one hand he supports taking half your dividend and an income tax, but on the other hand warns a five percent cut in education and university budgets is “devastating”.

What better example of the left-liberal vision of the world.

How many households in Alaska have had to deal with the “devastating” impact of a 5 percent reduction in household income? Devastating? What is a 5 percent reduction in government spending compared to the loss of 10,000 private sector jobs?

How many thousands of Alaskans have lost their private economy jobs while the House Democrats debate how they can increase taxes to fund a BIGGER government?

Tax, tax, tax – how much is enough? Last year they wanted $200 million, this year they wanted $700 million and now the Governor is willing to settle for $100 million. Really?

The Democrats (with three turncoat Republicans and two fake independents), without an apparent second thought, supported leaving the Governor’s fantasy gas pipeline with $100 million for something that has been a total boondoggle.

The Democrat vision is automatic “merit” pay increases for state employees, approving every increase in public employee contracts and when faced with a multi-billion dollar deficit, increase the operating budget.

In control of the House for the first time in about 25 years, the Democrats have pushed for higher oil taxes, income taxes, head taxes, gas taxes, craft beer taxes etc, etc, etc and a PFD cut by 50 percent — all to preserve state spending and state-funded programs.

As for the rest of the economy – all private-sector employees, all trade union jobs – all forgotten and abandoned by the Democrats, except as targets for higher taxes, fees and more regulations. The single exception? A popular bill authorizing Uber to operate in Alaska.

How radical is the vision of the House Democrats? They want an income tax so badly they are willing to use any excuse, even a government “shutdown” to scare the rest of us into paying their income tax, their school tax, their craft beer tax, their gas tax – and for what?

So that lefty-liberal Representatives – two examples are Les Gara and Scott Kawasaki – can try to add new and expanded government programs (confirmed by a glance at legislation they sponsored listed on BASIS)!

Share in the load, being fair? The Democrat’s myopic vision appears to be all about milking working Alaskans to avoid any reductions to government and even increase the size and scope of government.

Of course Rep. Josephson is an honorable man. He is a man who deeply and truly cares about protecting government, growing government and protecting public employees during the recession. Certainly my friend is honest about his all-government, all the time, at all costs vision.

We agree with him that “the people of Alaska and the members of the House and Senate have two clear choices in front of them.”

The Democrat choice is to tax everyone else so that state employees and government programs are untouched by budget deficits and the recession. The Republican choice is to balance the budget with everything on the table – including reductions in state programs and for state employees – so that all Alaskans share in the pain of adjusting to the latest recession and swings in the budget.

What is fair is certainly in the eye of the beholder and there are two teams, and two general visions.

For Democrats what is fair is to raise taxes on oil (again), tinker and tax our resource development economy even more, cut the PFD, impose a 7 percent income tax (and a host of other specific taxes) and not reduce state employee benefits or salaries or programs no matter what. Then expand and increase government spending on programs and salaries.

That looks like an Alaska that exists mostly for one purpose: to fund, finance, and fuel the State.

For the Senate Republicans, the plan appears to balance costs, cuts and taxes. They would begin to eliminate cash tax credits, try for a modest 5 percent reduction in some government spending, restructure the use of the Permanent Fund earnings (everyone pays something with a lower PFD) and adjust to the reality that less income should mean less spending. Then they would use the government cash – savings – on hand to bridge the gap through this recession.

For Republicans, the vision is an Alaska where private enterprise and independent individuals can operate relatively free on their own terms.

There certainly does appear to be a difference in visions: One vision is of a government that primarily exists to serve us; the other is a vision where we primarily exist to serve government.

Tuckerman Babcock the chairman of the Alaska Republican Party.

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