Rushing down the road to economic failure

As Colorado goes, so goes the nation. They said that about the 2012 election; it is even truer of the economy. Photo: Independence Institute

COLORADO SPRINGS, November 19, 2012 — While voters listed jobs and the economy as a top concern in this month’s election, they voted for more of the same.

Last week a Rasmussen poll showed 79 percent of those surveyed concerned with inflation. By voting the way they did on November 6th, voters have insured both continued high unemployment and more inflation.

This is because you can’t spend more than you take in indefinitely. To make up the difference, the Fed is creating $40 billion per month out of thin air—or, more accurately, by re-arranging electrons in computer spreadsheets. Sooner or later we are going to see the massive inflation that people rightly fear. The only question is when.

In Colorado, where unemployment is 9 percent and the state can’t just create money, we may see the results of failed economic policy very soon. State Democrats ensured themselves control of both houses of the legislature through reapportionment last December and the election confirmed it. The floodgates are now open for any kind of spending they want. Since Colorado must balance its budget, that means new taxes as well.

The very first bill brought to the legislature in January will be civil unions, rejected by voters the last time they were asked to vote on it and rejected by the Republican-led House in May. After that, there will be a host of new revenue bills like the Dirty Dozen the Democrats passed the last time they were in total control.

The energy economy is important to Colorado’s overall economy. Since 2006, the Democrats have pushed for the kind of new energy economy we see at the national level. Colorado law now requires unrealistically high percentages of energy be produced from alternative energy sources like wind and solar. These are the kind of sources that gave rise to the Abound Solar energy scandal.

Never heard of Abound Solar? Not surprising. The Independence Institute in Denver tried for months to get the left-leaning Denver Post to report it and finally resorted to the unusual step of advertising the story on billboards around the Post’s office building in downtown Denver. The story of Abound Solar, it turns out, is very much like the Solyndra scandal and joins a long list of failed alternative energy enterprises. The fallout in Colorado has been 500 jobs cut. Without being propped up by taxpayer dollars, these companies simply can’t survive.

At the same time they supported alternative energy, Colorado Democrats pushed out Colorado’s traditional oil and gas and coal industries. First, they pitted oil and gas against coal with House Bill 1365, essentially requiring coal-burning power plants to convert to natural gas. It has also killed the mining town of Craig, Colorado. Today they are continuing a battle against fracking at all levels of state and local government. While the energy industry is in danger of extinction, Chinese companies are buying leases in counties just east of the Front Range.

Leases cost very little compared to actually running a business. Given the business-unfriendly climate developing in Colorado, I would not expect to see many new ventures coming to this state.

One reason is Obamacare. Colorado has a health care exchange, courtesy of Democrat Sen. Betty Boyd and Republican Rep. Amy Stephens. The Democrats are firmly in charge of it and they have been busy collecting both state and federal dollars to fund it and also holding hearings about the additional mandates they will attach to it.

Companies doing business in Colorado will find increased health care costs. They will either opt out and pay the fine or relocate to other states that do not have the exchanges. None of the states surrounding Colorado have exchanges.

The state constitution does mandate a balanced budget and TABOR—the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights—limits the spending side of the state budget. TABOR, however, is under constant attack by the free-spending left. This year there is actually a surprise surplus in the state budget, the result of people selling off their assets and generating more tax revenue than expected. It won’t last. And those assets won’t be producing revenue in the future, either.

Just as on the national scene, in Colorado the leftists are eager to complete the fundamental transformation of this state. What a sorry mess it will be.

They will try to shift the blame—they always do. But they own the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature. The fault is theirs and they will prove once again that sooner or later socialism runs out of other people’s money.

In Colorado it will be sooner rather than later.


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Al Maurer

Al Maurer is a political scientist and founder of The Voice of Liberty. He writes on topics of limited government and individual rights.

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