I appreciate that someone of the stature of Dr. Jason Margolis, a former public school teacher, wrote the outstanding letter in the Jan. 28 edition, “Mt. Lebanon Must Lose Lower-Upper Class Mentality,” in which he indicates that members of its school board and board of commissioners have imposed levels of taxation which have maintained an unnecessarily onerous burden. A virtually identical piece could be written about my community of 13 years, Upper St. Clair.
The once-austere governing bodies here have abandoned their consideration of the taxpayer. I consider that there is one demonstrated conservative on the school board, Louis Oliverio, and but one on the board of commissioners, Bob Orchowski, the only current member who had the courage and good sense to vote against the controversial and widely-opposed $27.5 million recreation center.
The tax-raisers and profligate spenders in local government are in good company. Both the state and the nation are fiscal basket cases due to irresponsible “leadership,” which has long thumbed its nose at the public.
At the state level, there are individuals like Rep. John Maher (R-Upper St. Clair), who in 2001 joined a majority of his greedy colleagues to vote for a massive retroactive boost in their pensions and those of state public school teachers and state employees with no way to pay for it. While most rank and file employees contributed 6.25 percent of their gross earnings to the pension funds with every paycheck, the Commonwealth elected to take “holidays” from paying its share. We now must look to individuals like Rep. Maher, who got us into this mess, to get us out of the hole that has been dug, a metastasizing $50 billion deficit for which us taxpayers will be footing the bill for years into the future, if not indefinitely.
At the federal level, President Obama “fiddles while Rome burns,” using his State of the Union Address to boast that the deficit is shrinking (which, of course, does nothing to diminish the national debt of in excess of $18 trillion).
Yes, the rate of increase in the annual deficit has decreased in current and recent years of the Obama presidency, but that is certain to end. The independent Congressional Budget Office notes that deficit spending, driven by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, will explode in the years to come, a phenomenon which will be exacerbated by the rise in interest rates that is all but certain to occur as the Federal Reserve Board eases us out of the temporary and artificial zero rate environment that it has maintained for years. The most alarming forecast is that the current annual interest payment on our massive debt of $277 billion will balloon to $827 billion by 2025, an amount which is more than 27 percent of government revenue for fiscal year 2014.
Not since the tenure of Bill Clinton, which now seems like it was ages ago, has the nation enjoyed a president who placed us on to a path of balanced budgets, and the red ink that has been incurred on President Obama’s watch has been more than what was accumulated by all of the presidents who preceded him combined. Not all of this was his fault, as he was handed a country which was in the throes of a severe recession, but he has done nothing to restore our fiscal health.
The Medicaid rolls and the number of individuals who receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) have exploded under this president, and corporate welfare continues to flourish. Amidst all of this, the president proposes new and costly entitlements which he surely knows will not be paid for. We will pay the piper tomorrow for the excesses of today. The can continues to be kicked down the road. The road is quickly approaching the cliff.
Government at all levels has run amok in misuse of the power to tax and spend. Dr. Margolis’ letter brings the realization that in order to make an exodus from oppressive local taxes, one’s best hope is to move out of the county.
Upper St. Clair