Obama’s Gifts to New York

This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.

The New York Sun

What a surprise in the White House list of federal outlays that will be cut in New York State because of the sequester. It turns out that the impact will be largely positive in a state with one of the highest combined tax rates in the country. The White House list is too long to include in its entirety. But the President has cut shrewdly, and here is a sense of it.

One big gain will be a $42.7 million savings that taxpayers won’t have to pay to teachers and schools. New York City is already paying more for education than most states, and under the sequester, people from all over America will not be taxed as much to pay for it as they might have were it not for the sequester. New Yorkers will be able to employ 590 fewer teacher and aides.

What a relief. Teachers get a far cushier deal than the taxpayers who employ them. In New York City, it’s practically impossible to fire a teacher who isn’t doing a good job. Most taxpayers would die for such a deal. So it’s doubly galling to have to support teachers. The sequester rides to the rescue.

The White House list doesn’t attach a dollar-amount in the savings from the cut of aid that would have been taken from taxpayers to give to some 4,520 low income students in New York to help them finance the costs of college and to around 4,150 who get work-study jobs that help them pay for college. These cuts will help one of the most promising low-income populations.

It will do this by teaching an important lesson to deserving students — we’re all in this together. There’s a limit to how much one can extract from one group of taxpayers to help another group that doesn’t pay so much in taxes. Another way to state the lesson is that the taxpayer is sometimes called the “forgotten man,” and it doesn’t pay to forget him.

Another positive impact is that the government is going to stop taxing Americans to give the money to New York’s fish. The sequester will pare $12,869,000 in “environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste,” the White House says. Taxpayers will be spared from having to shell out in New York alone “another $1,201,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.”

A leaner, meaner defense establishment will result from the sequester in New York. The sequester will force the furlough of something like 12,000 civilian Department of Defense employees, “reducing gross pay,” the White House estimates, “by around $60.9 million in total.” This means a higher proportion of our defense outlays will go to the uniformed GIs, so that New Yorkers will get more bang for the buck.

One of the hidden benefits of the sequester in New York, according to the White House’s boast, will be a savings of about $884,000 in “funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement.” It lists a downside to this as being that “46,230 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.” But the upside is that concurrent reduction in taxes will mean more jobs to start with.

Some of the choices the government has made don’t make sense. Mr. Obama is choosing to cut access to child care for what the White House estimates is up to “2,300 disadvantaged and vulnerable children.” He’s cutting this even though he calls the child care essential for working parents to hold down a job. But he is refusing to transfer these cuts to budgets for non-essential areas of the government, like the Environmental Protection Agency or the State Department or the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mr. Obama is also threatening to take away $412,000 in funds for New York that, as the White House puts it, “provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 1,600 fewer victims being served.” It strikes us that it would be more logical to take this money away from, say, the vast congressional staff or from the interstate highways. Or even from huge amount of lucre we pony up to the United Nations.

Generally, though, the sequester is shaping up as a good thing. It means that there is less pressure to tax New Yorkers and other working Americans. So the family businesses that pay these taxes will have more money to provide jobs, and the economy can start to grow. These columns have criticized Mr. Obama often enough. So it is but fair to thank him for the sequester. It was his idea, and New Yorkers appreciate it.

The New York Sun

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