Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How Many Jobs…?

As Indiana’s newly-elected, Republican-dominated General Assembly gets ready to go back to work, I think that it is important to consider a few quick issues. As the new Republican House majority and the Republican Senate super-majority begin to introduce bills, I think that there are two questions that should be asked before the bill is even introduced, let alone scheduled for committee hearings and eventually a vote:

  1. How many jobs will the bill create in Indiana?
  2. How will the bill impact Indiana’s fiscal condition?

So, for example, how many jobs will be created by a an amendment to Indiana’s Constitution to ban same-sex marriage? How many jobs will be created by laws that make it harder for a woman to get an abortion? Will a constitutional ban on gay marriage reduce Indiana’s budget shortfall? Will greater restrictions on abortion solve the problem with funding Indiana’s unemployment compensation?

And what will it cost the state to enact controversial legislation sure to be challenged in court? Our current Treasurer has spent millions trying to stop the Chrysler bankruptcy (which would have resulted in little, if any, monetary gain for the State and likely resulted in the loss of even more jobs) and our Attorney General has spent an unknown sum to join in a challenge to healthcare reform.

Yes, Republicans won big last week. But was that victory a sign that Hoosiers want Republicans to pass legislation that advances their social agenda or was that victory all about jobs and the economy? Were Republicans elected because they were pro-life or against same-sex marriage, or were they elected because voters thought that they could fix the economy, or maybe even, because voters were angry at Democrats (for doing terrible things like trying to save the country from another Great Depression, keeping jobs in the auto industry, regulating banks to stop another financial meltdown, and trying to solve the health insurance crisis)?

As the General Assembly begins work it will quickly become apparent that the real issues facing Indiana are not going to be resolved simply and quickly or with platitudes or budget trickery. And when the hard questions — especially hard political questions — become too hard, then we need to worry about the easy fallback to controversial social issues that give the impression that legislators are doing something when, in reality, all that they’re really doing is avoiding the tough stuff, the stuff that they were actually elected to attend to.

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