President Truman was famous for his sign “The Buck Stops Here.” If only Alaska Senate President Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, could claim the same. To the contrary a more appropriate sign would be “All Bucks Spent at Light Speed.”
Kelly’s fiscal recklessness is not surprising since he either refuses to employ, or is not capable of, simple arithmetic. To suggest a modest increase in oil production coupled with low forecasted oil prices will solve our billion-dollar fiscal gap is beyond wrong-headed — it is delusional. Moreover, to spend down the Permanent Fund while proudly claiming to protect us from taxation is the epitome of hypocrisy. Spending the Permanent Fund first is the worst regressive tax the Legislature can impose. In essence, Kelly is the very type of politician that the architects of the Permanent Fund were trying to protect us from — yet he is at the helm of a modern day Titanic.
As for his poor me, “I will be blamed for all the ills of government,” Kelly should readily acknowledge he is the root ill. His cavalier spending of non-renewable savings, by the billions and over a period of years, came at the same time he staunchly defended bigger tax breaks for oil. Simply, under his leadership we get to suffer a triple whammy: lower oil production, lower oil prices and far more generous oil tax breaks. Nice to know our mega savings went to the most profitable enterprises on earth.
Even at petty level, Kelly complains about having to live in Juneau for a very long-long time, but fails to recognize we/he could have solved the fiscal problem a long, long time ago. Instead, he has never wavered from his one trick solution of deficit spending that dwarfs our income — even during our glory days.
Hopefully, our more enlightened legislators will follow the advice provided the Juneau Empire editorial last Sunday. It is right on and opposed to Kelly who is dead wrong. Sadly, Sen. Kelly remains the skipper and the dance band on the Titanic is just beginning to play.
Joe Mehrkens is a retired economist. He lives in Petersburg.