It took a mind-bogglingly large and ineffective stimulus (Paul Krugman's recommendation for a much larger stimulus notwithstanding) , the takeover of healthcare (one sixth of the U.S. economy), and a takeover of American auto makers and banks to do it, but the Tea Party has grown in importance and influence such that a large number of small government, low taxes, lower regulation, free enterprise types will likely be elected to Congress in about a month. If this article is any indication, they could have found their inspiration in my adopted home state, New Hampshire.
New Hampshire has perfected the art of penny-pinching.
Recently New Hampshire was ranked as the least politically corrupt state in the nation. It is a nice distinction to have, but it also begs the question as to why.
We can talk about how wholesome we are, but the real answer is that New Hampshire taxes less and spends less than most states. Without anything being taxed or government contracts to give out there is little incentive to hire a lobbyist or for a public official to be bribed.
With the stakes at play so low it also means that the state has little ability to do big things. If the state’s “Live Free or Die” motto ever gets old we can just replace it with “Think Small.”
The state legislators get paid - are you ready? - $100 per year. No, that's not a typo. And the Governor is currently a Democrat, but in this state you cannot get elected to that position unless you take the No Income/Sales Tax pledge - a situation which annoys the liberal Concord Monitor no end. Back to "Think Small."
Along with no income stream that’s broad-based — like an income or sales tax — going to state coffers, there is also the fact the state’s budget is kept at, as Rep. Margie Smith, the House finance chair, calls it, at a “structural deficit.” This means that the Legislature approves projects that it has no ability to pay for when you add up the collective price tag. So before anyone takes a look at the next budget and the liabilities, there is no way state revenues can pay for them all. The discussion begins with where do we cut versus what can we grow or what can we sustain.
Washington could use a system like that. Keep cutting until the budget is balanced, and keep taxes constant. Simplify the tax code to eliminate those loopholes and payoffs, that is, stop using the tax code to "enccourage" behavior. The big benefit? Lobbyists won't have any reason to bribe Congressfolk with trips to Munich for Oktoberfest.
So when I see the more and more people climbing on to the smaller government bandwagon I quote John McClain: "Welcome to the party, pal!" The Tea Party may not have started in New Hampshire, but it can certainly point to the Granite State as an example of what they're after.