Column: Cutting budgets? Yes we can

2012-10-04T11:51:00Z Column: Cutting budgets? Yes we canBy Luke Hilgeman La Crosse Tribune
October 04, 2012 11:51 am  • 

In his column this week, Tomah Newspapers Editor Steve Rundio referenced me asking if Wisconsin can balance its budget, "why can't Washington?" 

The answer? Because folks like Mr. Rundio keep saying we can't instead of focusing on reforms that will.

When Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislative leaders took office in 2010, their Democrat counterparts claimed that Wisconsin's budget crisis could never be solved without cutting vital services and ending life in the Badger State as we knew it.

Fast forward to 2012 and look at the facts: Wisconsin is facing the prospects of a budget surplus in 2013, our economy is growing, property taxes are at historic lows and both teachers and public safety workers kept jobs they wouldn't otherwise have.

Not so in D.C. where the Feds have a $1.5 trillion-dollar deficit, $16 billion in debt, tax rates that are set to skyrocket and a real unemployment rate of almost 15 percent.

That is because the politicians in Washington share the same mentality as Mr. Rundio: It can't be done because the federal government is just too big and much too important. We used to have that mentality in Wisconsin too, and look what we were able to accomplish with real leadership.

Worse yet, Mr. Rundio wrongly places the blame for these problems and this wrongheaded vision at the feet of one party.  

For example Mr. Rundio makes a blanket statement that claims Republicans refuse to touch entitlement reforms like Medicare until at least ten years down the road. Truth is, there are a number of Republican Congressmen who have put forth proposals that will balance the budget and reshape entitlement programs so that they can remain solvent. 

Fiscal responsibility is not a partisan issue, but Mr. Rundio should be applauding those who have the guts to reform entitlements while some in our nation's capital — like President Obama — would rather create new entitlement programs that raise taxes and increase our debt instead of addressing the problems already facing our nation.

Despite but what Mr. Rundio says, Washington does need a little bit of Wisconsin. We rolled up our sleeves and addressed the issues facing our state head on.  The problems are different but the resolve needs to be the same.  No problem is too big or too difficult to address, if Wisconsin can figure it out, Washington can.

What Gov. Walker and the Legislature did in Wisconsin was necessary to save our state from financial ruin. What we need in Washington are bold leaders who will do the same to keep America from going over the looming financial cliff we were able to avoid in our state by making the tough decisions.   We face great challenges, but this is still America. We're Americans, and we don't run from anything.  We can, and will, build a brighter American future."

 I can only hope that Mr. Rundio and others who share his "no we can't" spirit lose out to those with the courage, conviction and vision that is needed to right the ship.

Luke Hilgemann is the Wisconsin state director for Americans for Prosperity.

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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