We talk a lot about values, where we put our money and what matters most.
When looking at how we talk about money, and where we spend it, we can get a pretty good idea of what we actually value — no matter what we say.
For example, even though our legislators say they value fiscally sound policies, they recently voted to add costly sideboards to Medicaid expansion, creating a situation where it costs more but is less effective in covering those who need the health coverage.
Looking at this fact, it becomes clear that our representatives are more interested in punishing a small percentage of people that might take advantage of the system than actual cost-effectiveness. It also indicates that they value ideology over what is fiscally sound or good for their constituents.
We see this in other cases as well. Our leaders are wringing their hands over an estimated $40 million shortfall in tax revenue, thanks in part to a tax cut that, according to the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, benefited Idaho’s top earners disproportionately to its lower-income residents. I know I received a tax refund — something I don’t need and haven’t received in years — while many around me ended up paying more.
Well, these leaders claim that we just don’t have enough money to go around. After all, we’re seeing revenue shortfalls. How can we possibly fund education, keep our public lands in public hands and even manage the more-expensive Medicaid expansion they gave us?
As we can see, continued tax cuts aimed at helping the wealthiest of Idahoans put us in this position. Our so-called leaders are more interested in the ideology of tax cuts than they are anything else. They would rather present us with false conflicts between infrastructure, education and health care than actually put our taxpayer money where our values are.
Regular polling puts issues related to education, infrastructure and healthcare ahead of tax cuts, and yet those who claim to represent us regularly pretend like all Idahoans want are tax cuts. No, we’re smart enough to understand that taxes pay for things we need and want, and many of us prioritize other spending over tax cuts.
Our legislators’ priorities and values are clearly out of sync with what we the people want from our money.
Unfortunately, this is true at a national level as well. Official estimates put the cost of the 2017 tax cut bill, which disproportionately benefits the wealthy and corporations, at between $1 trillion and $2 trillion to the federal debt. Forbes points out that we’re seeing exploding deficits under the Trump administration, corporate income tax receipts and other tax receipts drop.
Our government is prioritizing spending on the military, even though we spend more on the military than any 10 other nations combined. A national conversation about our values and priorities is probably in order. If you want to join that conversation, and get an idea of the national debt and what it means, we’re co-hosting, along with the Idaho Falls Progressives, a discussion on the national debt on July 13, at 12 p.m. at CEI in the Healthcare Education Building (building 6), room 152.