Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Ever Happened to the Republican Mantra - "Don't Throw Money at the Problem?" - Republican Mayor Ballard Proposes Throwing More Money at CIB

I seem to recall that Republican critique of Democrats always trying to solve problems by spending more money. Behind the Republican critique is the very logical position that when a program is failing, you don't simply throw more money at the program to "fix" the problem. The problem isn't a lack of money. The problem is the program itself.

How is that not analogous to the situation involving the Capital Improvement Board? Here we have a Board that has failed by almost every measure. It has operated at a loss for 10 years (and only recently informed the public of that fact.) The Board has entered into sweetheart contracts with professional sports teams that have given away so much revenue from Conseco Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium that the Board doesn't have enough money to cover operating costs for the two facilities. Thinking about it, it is a rather remarkable thing. The CIB, i.e. the taxpayers, pay to operate Lucas Oil Stadium, and yet the Indianapolis Colts get 1/2 of the non-Colts revenue from the facility. The Pacers get 100% of the revenue from non-Pacer events at Conseco, yet the team has somehow convinced the CIB and others that we taxpayers should pick up the cost of operating the facility even though we still won't get the revenue from the facility.

Not only is the CIB failing, it does so with most of its books closed to the public. Reporters and council members who have tried to get information from the CIB find themselves walking away frustrated.

The CIB is clearly a failing entity. But what is Republican Mayor Greg Ballard's solution? It is to throw more taxpayer money at the CIB and, hopefully, the Board will do a better job this time around. Unbelievable.

During Mayor Ballard's press conference, not one word spoken about the need to reform the CIB, to make it more open and accountable, to ensure that it is better stewards of taxpayer money. He offered no reforms to make sure the CIB did not screw up handling taxpayer money....again. No blame was laid on the CIB for its past and future failures.

Throw more money at the CIB problem? That may be Mayor Ballard's "solution" to the crisis. But it certainly is not a Republican one.


jabberdoodle said...

As a Democrat I would take some exception to your prelude. There is a strong fiscal conservative streak throughout the Democratic Party. Enough said about that here.

As to your main thesis, that this is good money after bad. I will not disagree with you on that.

I would add my own take on the big picture. I think you show your priorities by how you spend your money. Whether you are talking about personal or public finances, there are limited funds - although public funds can be more easily supplemented with higher taxes.

Despite what Candidate Ballard had to say about taxes, Mayor Ballard has embraced them. His speech writer goes so far as to say what a great thing it is that Mayor Ballard isn't raising property or income taxes - whew !

But, is he raising taxes to get more police on the street - public safety is supposedly his job number one. Is he raising taxes to improve parks or fill potholes or to allow the libraries to be open on Sunday - quality of life issues. Is he raising taxes to fix the foreclosure problem or the abandoned housing problem? No to all of these. He told all departments to live within their budgets and no matter what, there would be no more money.

By suggesting that we increase the tax revenues of the CIB by 50-100% (the numbers differ by source material), he is saying that the billionaire bailout is sacrosanct and his number one priority.

Its all free money - except to the taxpayers who are the real victims here.


Well said jabberdoodle. I'd like to meet some of these fiscal conservative democrats.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Well, Jabber, not to be disagreeable, but we have been throwing money at public schools for decades hoping they'll get better. Education spending has soared well above the inflation rate for decades. It's mostly D's who have fought any sort of reform of the public schools.

Rather than concentrate on fiscally conservative D's (I like HFFT don't see a lot of fiscally conservative D's), I'd concentrate on big spending Republicans who hae lost their way, like the Mayor.

I think we can all agree that giving the hard earned money of taxpayers to subsidize professional sports owners is not a good use of tax dollars.

jabberdoodle said...

Don't get me started on the state of education vs. educational funding in the State of Indiana. Its no coincidence that the high-priced real estate across the street to the east of the Statehouse belongs to the Indiana Teachers Union.

And, don't get me started on the economic policies of the Bush Administration.

Let's be friends instead.

Jon said...

You are exactly right we are throwing money at the problem rather than fixing the core issue. If we don't fix the problem it persists, it's as simple as that. The mayor and the city will soon learn about the law of unintended consequences; as hotel rooms, car rentals and other taxes and fees continue to escalate fewer and fewer people will spend their dollars. Rather than a cash influx expect a decline in revenues. It's economics 101, the more expensive a commodity the fewer people purchase that commodity.

Downtown Indy said...

My greatest fear is that this problem returns in 2-3 years. Maybe next year, even.

Then we do it all over again. And again. And again.

It's like trying to fix a radiator leak by putting in one of those 'leak stop' products. Sure the leak stops for a while, but the next time you look the leak has gotten bigger and the radiator is now beyond repair because it's all gunked up inside. It's then that you realize you didn't fix anything, you just put off a proper repair and made a bigger mess.

Citizen Kane said...

This is how it is supposed to work. It is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, with taxpayers being the suckers who keep filling the till while the rich people run off with money. But this Ponzi scheme has no end as long as we keep electing the same self-dealing Republicans and Democrats who easily corruptible or easily bamboozled.

guy77money said...

Hmm I wonder if this is how the Roman Empire slowly died. They taxed the citizens into poverty for their large wasteful projects. Do you think years from now our ancestors will be giving tours of the ruins of Lucas Oil after the tax (citizens) payers get fed up and revolt. We can only hope so.

Paul K. Ogden said...


We can definitely be friends. My big beef on educaiton spending is that so little of that money actually reaches the classroom.