April 21st, 2012
The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.
From the public’s perspective, there’s never a good time to give a public official a raise. That’s why Newton Mayor Setti Warren’s inclusion of a 28 percent ($27,125) pay hike in his proposed fiscal 2013 budget is probably irritating a fair number of Newton taxpayers. This, when other city employees are getting a maximum hike of four percent. But the fact is, the raise for the Newton mayor is not only in order; it’s long overdue.
The mayor now earns $97,876. He is responsible for a municipal budget of more than $300 million and city services for 85,000 residents. After a rocky start and premature leap into the U.S. Senate race, Warren seems to have settled into the work, coming to grips with the delivery of services, negotiating contracts with municipal employees that wrung some savings out of workers health insurance coverage, communicating with residents and more.
But the raise is about more than Warren’s performance. It’s about the roles and responsibilities of the office. The mayor’s salary was set in 1998 and has not increased since then. The purchasing power of that salary has shrunk by 26 percent. Seven years ago, a special commission had recommended the increase. Then-mayor David Cohen had sought to implement the recommendation four years ago but, in the face of public outrage over expenditures for the new Newton North High School, withdrew his request. The Boston Globe
reports that the Mayor is the city’s 214th highest paid employee. That’s right, 214th. The Newton School Superintendent earns a quarter of a million dollars.
Surely, action is needed. I hope the 24-member Board of Aldermen sees it that way too. Future increases, however, would be more palatable if they were more modest and at more reasonable intervals.
I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts in the comments section below.
April 21st, 2012
John Edward, a resident of Chelmsford who earned his master’s degree at UMass Lowell and who teaches economics at Bentley University and UMass Lowell, contributes the following column:
Last month I explained why Reaganomics was a dismal failure. Now I will focus on lessons that Clintonomics have to offer.
President Clinton said, “The era of big government is over.” That was not true. His saying that was a reflection of his political talent, not his economic policies.
What Clinton did achieve was a temporary end to an era of budget deficits. What he accomplished did more for the supply side of the economy than any of the failed supply-side policies of President Reagan.
Economic textbooks describe a “crowding out” effect. If the government runs a large deficit, it might drive up interest rates. Higher rates will discourage investment. Government spending is said to crowd out investment. With today’s low interest rates, crowding out is not a concern.
Some textbooks suggest the possibility of a “crowding in” effect. Investors see the government is willing to spend public funds to stimulate the economy and invest in the future. If they expect the policy will be successful, it will encourage private investment.
We saw some crowding in with President Obama’s stimulus package. However, there is a limit to how much and for how long deficit spending can crowd in investment.
There is evidence that Clintonomics demonstrated a very different crowding in effect. Textbooks seldom discuss it.
When William Clinton took the oath of office the federal budget deficit was $290 billion, or 5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It took a while, but by the final years of his Presidency we were running a budget surplus – the federal government was spending less than revenue. We were actually paying down the national debt. read more »