A Thursday afternoon hearing of something known as Colorado’s “Long-Term Fiscal Stability Commission” doesn’t sound like a spectator event for which you might grill a few steaks or even pop up some popcorn. In most cases you’d be right.
But yesterday brought an alternatively cutting, humorous and genial showdown between the intellectual heft and fiscally sound policies of economist Barry Poulson, representing the Independence Institute, and the silver-tongued sob stories of Wade Buchanan from the Left-leaning Bell Policy Center.
Okay, so it still doesn’t sound like action-packed, thrill-a-minute viewing entertainment. But since we’re talking about what to do to keep our state budget sound, revenue stable, services efficient, and taxes low, it’s in our interest to pay attention. Poulson argued effectively against the drumbeat in the media:
The white-haired Barry Poulson, a senior fellow at Independence and a CU-Boulder economics professor (right in picture), is anything but low key and opened his comments by emphatically declaring, â€œColorado is not experiencing a fiscal crisis.â€
Arms waving for emphasis, Poulson moved into a conservativeâ€™s critique of Californiaâ€™s fiscal mess; defense of the Taxpayerâ€™s Bill of Rights; a call for even stronger spending, revenue and debt limits, and suggestions for greater financial transparency, banning of earmarks and reform of Medicaid.
Though not officially a “debate”, if seen in transcript form, there’s little doubt that Poulson prevailed. Buchanan had the friendlier tone and smoother delivery, but Poulson offered up the sounder and stronger ideas. You can find soundbites of many of his arguments on my Twitter page. If you want to go back and get your snacks ready so you can listen to the nearly 2-hour exchange in full, I suspect a recording is available at the State Capitol. (But who’s really going to take me up on that?)
Also, earlier in the day, my Independence Institute colleague and commission appointee Amy Oliver offered up some pointed questions for one of Buchanan’s liberal cohort:
“What would be enough? How big should government be in the state of Colorado?” asked Amy Oliver, a Republican-appointed member and a conservative radio talk show host.
“I don’t know what the definition of ‘enough’ is,” Hedges replied, “but I also know it’s dangerous when we reach a point where we don’t have enough.”
As explained in Hedges’ presentation, “enough” is the average of what other states are collecting and spending — which would require an additional $4.8 billion in tax revenue. If you’re interested, I already dissected some of the problems with her “Aiming for the Middle” report for the Left-leaning Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute.
Just laying the groundwork here. I have every sense that the majority on the Commission is laying the groundwork to stiff taxpayers. I would love to be proven wrong, but I’m not naive either. In the meantime, let’s keep making the intelligent case for limited, responsible government.