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Tilting at Windmills

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January 28, 2011

THE CONSEQUENCES OF TEA PARTY-STYLE ARITHMETIC.... Voters in Long Island's Nassau County seemed to believe electing a Tea Partier would be a great idea. I have a hunch they're living with some regret now.

In late 2009, locals elected Edward P. Mangano as their county executive -- one of the first big upset victories for the so-called "movement" -- after running on a predictable platform. Mangano would slash taxes, cut spending, and create a nice little utopia. Voters loved the sound of it.

A year later, "Eddie" had slashed taxes as promised, but struggled to limit public services that the community had grown to appreciate. This week, the consequences of Tea Party economics became clear -- Nassau County, facing a full-fledged fiscal crisis, saw its finances taken over by the state.

The [tax cut policy] set Mangano on an immediate collision course with the state-appointed fiscal overseer, the Nassau County Interim Financial Authority, or NIFA. It culminated in NIFA seizing control of the wealthy New York county's finances on Wednesday.

Nassau's ills exemplify the growing tension across the country as dozens of freshly-elected Tea Party lawmakers, many of whom promised to cut taxes, must find ways to slash record budget gaps as revenues dwindle.

"A lot of people who got elected on this type of anti-tax platform are running into the brick wall of fiscal reality," said Matthew Gardner, executive director of the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in Washington.

Besides being a cautionary tale, the setback in Nassau County is a black eye for the Tea Party, the grassroots movement built around the core principles of constitutionally limited government, free-market ideology and low taxes.

Mangano stressed a "tax revolt" platform as a candidate, but few bothered to notice that his numbers just didn't -- indeed, couldn't -- add up. He ran against an incumbent who felt like he had no choice but to tell voters the truth -- he'd have to raise taxes to prevent a disaster -- and the public didn't care for it.

Mangano didn't quite understand the county's fiscal problems, but proceeded with his agenda anyway. And now we see the consequences.

Tea Party economics always sound nice, right up until these ridiculous ideas are actually implemented.

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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One of the most infuriating things about this political fraud's "plan" was to help close the deficit he proposed additional subsidies from the state of New York -- as in, we want OTHER taxpayers to foot the bill for OUR services. These people are incorrigible narcissists whose political reality is dominated by imposing pain on someone else.

Posted by: Barbara on January 28, 2011 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

It's the first case. It's unlikely to be the last.

Posted by: a different phil on January 28, 2011 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

I'm constantly amazed how supposedly grown-up, mature, intelligent people can fall for this crap. I hope every one of the dumbasses who voted for this guy ends up paying higher taxes to clean up the mess he created - karma!

Posted by: Patrick Star on January 28, 2011 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

State takeovers usually happen in heartbreakingly poor areas, where huge social needs, crumbling infrastructure, a fleeing middle class, terrible schools, high crime and corrupt/incompetent government reinforce each other. Places like Camden, NJ, or East St Louis, IL.

It's a little more surprising in the 11th-wealthiest county in the US (check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highest-income_counties_in_the_United_States).

Posted by: Basilisc on January 28, 2011 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

"Tea Party economics always sound nice..."

No they don't. They sound ridiculous and racist.

Posted by: jg on January 28, 2011 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

We're a country that doubts science and believes in miracles. This could be dangerous to ourselves and others.

Posted by: Cycledoc on January 28, 2011 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

What, they cut taxes and revenue didn't rise? How could that be?

Posted by: rea on January 28, 2011 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Having fled the area in 2004 and selling a small 3 b/r 2 bath house on a postage stamp sized lot for $380,000, what these crazies are blaming are the unions and public service/teacher employees for their woes. What they fail to realize is that you must pay these people enough to live in the same area. My property/school taxes were $7200/yr then. I still love visiting and would still be there if I could afford it.

Posted by: flyonthewall on January 28, 2011 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

It's useless to point out to Libertarians and Teabaggers that the end result of what they hope for would not only be 'futile' for society, but would lead to a 'Feudal' society.

Hint: Remember, you moronic Libertarians and Teabaggers, there where a hell of a lot more serfs back then than Lords, so be careful, you may not end up the oppressor but the oppressed.

And I wouldn't mind if it was just you assholes off on your own, I could use a good laugh, but you're determined to take the rest of us back with you at least a millenium.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 28, 2011 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Mangano didn't quite understand the county's fiscal problems....And now we see the consequences.


Really? All I see is somebody else having to step in (yet again)to fix another fucktards disastrous fairy-tale make believe policy. Now, Mangano will just blame shift.....and then move on to a lucrative career as a Heritage Foundation deep thinker.

No, "seeing the consequences" would be having Nassau County shutter it's doors or dramatically raise taxes. Take your pick fucktards.

Posted by: BetweenTheLines on January 28, 2011 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Since I know you're a fan of Simpsons references - isn't this sorta, kinda, exactly like the time Homer took over as Sanitation Commissioner?

It's hard not to respond like Ray Patterson eh?

Posted by: neilt on January 28, 2011 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

A tentative answer to Patrick Star's crucial question. In theory, Tea Party economics is a tough doctrine about self-reliance, responsibility, not sponging off the state. In practice, and thanks to the faith-based doctrine of the tooth fairy, it's the height of self-indulgence; it means expecting to get your services without paying for them, i.e., sponging off the state, while at the same time indulging your prejudices about race, religion and, in general, about people who are smarter than you. In practice, instead of taking responsibility for their own lives, the TP mob are encouraged to divert their energies into hatred of their fellow citizens.

Posted by: davidp on January 28, 2011 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Whoops, I meant tax fairy, not tooth fairy. (at 10.27)

Posted by: davidp on January 28, 2011 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

There is no such thing as a Free Lunch".

Believing otherwise is both naive and dangerous to those around you.

Posted by: DAY on January 28, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK


It shouldn't really be surprising that Nassau County - "wealthy" as it may be - would fall for the blandishments of Tea Party Economics: it's just the local manifestation of an attitude quite common in the whole region (though it is most evident in New Jersey).
The more "money" people have, the more of it they want to hold on to: especially where such "wealth" consists mainly of rises in real-estate valuations: taxable, but with said taxes having to be paid for out of stagnant or declining earnings due to problems in the larger economy.
It's all too easy for the average suburban homeowner to take out his/her frustrations on their local- or State-level governments: local governments rarely do a good job making the case for the services they provide (often have to provide): at least not enough to counter the cheap-and-easy low-tax/no-tax BS the Teabaggers love to spout. Until reality bites, that is....

Posted by: Jay C on January 28, 2011 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, the people who will be hurt most are those at the bottom end of the county's ladder, and of course the taxpayers of all the less-wealthy counties of New York who now have to bail out the Republicans.

You can't trust Republicans with money. You just can't.

Posted by: bleh on January 28, 2011 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

When did they stop teaching arithmetics in school?

Posted by: Vokoban on January 28, 2011 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

"...I regret to inform you that the magic ponies will not be appearing as advertised..."

Posted by: Noam Sane on January 28, 2011 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

The repubs ... and esp. the teabaggers .. seem to think that public employees should work for free, or if they MUST be payed, they should work for burger-flipper wages w/o benefits. The media keeps reinforcing this ridiculous message too.

Posted by: G.Kerby on January 28, 2011 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, Mangano did not run as a Tea Partier. Not sure where that nonsense started. He's a stock Republican from the old Margiotta machine. He was entirely unprepared to govern and certainty had no expectation of winning. Souzi ran no campaign at all and I'd guess he really did not want to win. He lost on anger over rising property taxes, something the County Exec. really has a very small percentage of control over in Nassau Co's byzantine structure. We have Village, Town, School and County property taxes. The largest share and fastest rising taxes are school taxes. In the "throw the bums out" mentality the voters defeated Souzzi and turned the local legislature from D to R. However, most school taxes were passed, if not on the first round then on the second. Why the moron cut any taxes only he can tell you. The Co. has depended on real estate and sales tax revenue. Both have declined dramatically. As for his Tea Party creds, if ran as one he would not have won.

Posted by: KK on January 28, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Mangano went to a Nassau County high school. I wonder how he did in math class? Or do they teach math there?

Posted by: Hannah on January 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Nassau's ills exemplify the growing tension across the country as dozens of freshly-elected Tea Party lawmakers, many of whom promised to cut taxes, must find ways to slash record budget gaps as revenues dwindle.

But...but...tax cuts pay for themselves!

Posted by: Gregory on January 28, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Mangano stressed a "tax revolt" platform as a candidate, but few bothered to notice that his numbers just didn't -- indeed, couldn't -- add up.

If only there were organizations that could take note of what politicians say, perform even a cursory correlation to objective reality, and then convey the results to the public through print or broadcast. We might call the members of such organizations "journalists."

We call the people who skip the middle step "stenographers."

Posted by: Gregory on January 28, 2011 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, this thread illustrates the ill thought out economic philosophy of both TPers and Libertarians. However, may I introduce the other side of the dilemma of many city and country governments. A half a block away from us lives a Progressive activist, who has worked for years for both Democratic and Progressive Democratic candidates in Portland. He has supported every Mayor and City and County commissioner and elected official in Salem elected in the past several years. He has supported every needed tax increase to help pay for needed schools, libraries and infrastructure for both the City of Portland and Multnomah County. He, begrudingly, accepted the large utility bill increases of electricity, water and garbage/recycling. He supported the many new bike lanes brought about by our Progressive Mayor Sam Adams. However, yesterday, he said he was selling his home and beautiful garden and moving into a condo in downtown Portland due to the (in his words) outrageous property taxes and utility costs incurred in maintaining a home. Beautiful Portland is no longer Senior friendly as costs increase yearly to the point of seniors not being able to meet the increases. Remember there have been no COLA increases in Social Security because food and oil are not considered for inflation. Of course, as no senior neither needs to eat nor to drive a vehicle, no big whoop. There must be some form of happy and sensible medium between Nassau County and Portland, Oregon.

Posted by: berttheclock on January 28, 2011 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

let us not forget Texas, Perry lied about his budget shortfall when he was up for election, it was much worse than anyone knew, he applied for stimulus money while writing a scathing op ed about the evils of the stimulus, and then - used our taxpayer funded stimulus money to plug most of his debts (that had not previously been disclosed).
He should go to prison! We are bailing out Texas!
I really long for the great Molly Ivens.

Posted by: JS on January 28, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Not enough was made of the troubles Orange Country CA suffered a few years ago when they ran into fiscal trouble. The end result was that they had to pay back the bonds at a HIGHER interest rate. The tea partiers may think Wall Streetbis on their side, but Wall Street is only on the side of profit for the sake profit.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on January 28, 2011 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

As a campaigner for Tom Suozzi, former Nassau County Executive, the major reason for Ed Mangano's election is the fact that most of the Democrats sat home on election day. No one thought Mangano could win, so they didn't bother to vote. Mangano also courted the Latino vote; Suozzi didn't. The Latinos I spoke with thought Mangano was one of them; he's not, he's Italian. I don't think the Tea Party surge had much of anything to do with Mangano's election. Suozzi didn't campaign hard enough or spend enough of his war chest. I think he was as surprised as the rest of us that he lost.

Posted by: nancy on January 28, 2011 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

But Ayn Rand said it would work !

Those people in Nassau County just didn’t clap loud enough.

Posted by: Joe Friday on January 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Actually I don't think this is a Tea Party thing per se. It's more of a Nassau County thing. What the story doesn't mention is NIFA was set up in 2000 by the Pataki administration because Nassau was going broke because of the county's insistance on low taxes and high services.


Posted by: mmc on January 28, 2011 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Where is the news media during this? Don't they actually look at the finances and explain in clear detail how if you take in less money than you pay out it leads to default? Probably not these days.

Our journalists these days are more interested in getting an audience, which they can sell to advertisers, than in present decent information. I suspect if they had the good information,then the audience would come along.

Posted by: Darsan54 on January 28, 2011 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

I really, really wish the media would stop bowing to GOP persistence, and stop acknowledging the Tea Party as a "grassroots movement". It is nothing of the kind, and is no more spontaneous than a lab culture. The Tea Party movement is embraced by the angry and uninformed, with a sprinkling of folks who just like to dress up in revolutionary costume and carry muskets around in public, but it was not started by any of them. It is a GOP strategists' creation, and was specifically stood up to be a scary, borderline-violent bludgeon with which to beat the Democrats. Regardless what its members might think, there is as much exercise of free will in the Tea Party as there is in tea.

Posted by: Mark on January 28, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

From the perspective of economics, it's clear that the Tea Party should be renamed the Underpants Gnomes Party. After all, their economic platform does go like this:

1) Cut taxes, especially on the rich
2) ?
3) Profit!


Posted by: Zorro on January 28, 2011 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK


No, "seeing the consequences" would be having Nassau County shutter it's doors or dramatically raise taxes. Take your pick fucktards.

No, "seeing the consequences" would be Mangano in an orange jumpsuit doing one of the necessary menial jobs the county can no longer afford to pay for - filling potholes, picking up litter and mowing highway medians, scrubbing toilets in park restrooms, etc.

Posted by: Joey Maloney on January 28, 2011 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The voters of Nassau County got exactly what they voted for.

Posted by: Big River Bandido on January 28, 2011 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

New York State is taking over the finances of Nassau County? That sounds a little like making Bernie Madoff a conservator for Jack Abramoff.

Posted by: tamiasmin on January 28, 2011 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Tea Party economics always sound nice, right up until these ridiculous ideas are actually implemented."

so how about someone put this up on billboards all over the country.........

Posted by: just bill on January 28, 2011 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

None of this will sink into the tiny little pea brains of the tea partiers. In their view, Mangano's mistake was refusing to follow through with deep cuts to social services. I'm sure the teabaggers think that there are still plenty of undeserving people of color in Nassau County collecting welfare checks and getting free medical care, and that the fiscal crisis would have gone away if Mangano had been able to cut these slackers off. This fiction is what drives the engine of the tea party (and the GOP), so no matter how badly hard-right Republicans manage to screw up, fault will always lie at the feet of Democrats for creating these "socialist" programs. The tea partiers, like most of the rest of the GOP, are holed up in a misinformation echo chanber that no dose of reality can penetrate.

Posted by: ameshall on January 28, 2011 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what the problem is here. Deficits don't matter. Reagan worked that out on his slide rule.

Posted by: Bozo Nightmare on January 28, 2011 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK



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