Recent studies suggest that state budget woes are largely because of tax cuts taken over the last two or three decades (and the last five years) without concurrent cuts in spending.
Liberal analysts blame the tax cut side of the equation, and conservative's the failure to cut spending. So far the conservatives are getting their way in states like Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Texas.
But as the public getsa view of what budget cutting really means, its not clear if they have the stomach for what they started in last year's elections. In Wisconsin, the fight over recent legislation to limit collective bargaining by public unions has changed an easy re=election bid for a Republican Supreme Court Justice into a competitive battle.
Lost in the high visibility fight in Wisconsin has been the death of two Arizonans who were denied organ transplants as part of budget cuts enacted last year amid allegations that the cuts were enacted based on faulty testimorny.
Republicans generally cast tax cuts for businesses and high income taxpayers as competitive advantages, drawing investment and jobs to their states. This ignores the ability of neighboring states to cut their taxes to remain competitive, locking the states in a self-destructing race to the bottom. So it begins to sound more like Grover Norquist's dream - a government so small you can drown it in a bathtub
Liberals and conservatives have an easy time with this question. But it may not be the right question, as the public seems to be struggling more with the way Republicans are reining in spending than the cuts themselves. But the situations in Wisconsin and Arizona seem likely to spread to other states (a public union fight are already brewing in Ohio, and Alaska's legislature is considering one). We already know how the public reacted to claims of "death panels" in the health care reform legislation, but how will they react when death panels become real, and established in their names?