PRESIDENT OBAMA has bet the economy on his program to grow the government and finance it with a more progressive tax system. It's hard to miss the irony that he's pitching this change in Washington even as the same governance model is imploding in three of the largest American states where it has been dominant for years -- California, New Jersey and New York.
A decade ago all three states were among America's most prosperous. . . . All three are now suffering from devastating budget deficits as the bills for years of tax-and-spend governance come due.
These states have been models of "progressive" policies that are supposed to create wealth: high tax rates on the rich, lots of government "investments," heavy unionization and a large government role in health care.
So goes the real-life experience of progressive governance, with heavy tax burdens financing huge welfare states, and state capitals dominated by public-employee unions. Formerly rich states, they are now known for job losses, booming deficits and debt, wage stagnation, out-migration and laughingstock legislatures. At least Americans have the ability to flee these ill-governed states for places that still welcome wealth creators. The debate in Washington is whether to spread this antigrowth model across the entire country.
(Editorial, "The Albany-Trenton-Sacramento Disease," Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2009)