If you are wondering how incoming Tea Partiers like Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, and Marco Rubio will govern once in office, you need look no farther than Nassau County, New York
. And it ain’t pretty. In January of this year, Edward Mangano was one of the first Tea Partiers to be swept into office by anti-tax fervor by promising to…wait for it…cut taxes in the face of huge deficits. As county executive, he did just that, but made no real cuts in services including eliminating the county’s mounted pollice unit or imposing a hiring freeze. He also didn’t cut borrowing to subsidize one of the country’s richest school districts.
The result was not surprising. In less than a year, Mangano added $40 million to the county’s deficit, now totaling over $350 million. Virtually ignoring the growing crisis, Mangano plans to reduce the county’s deficits by demanding union concessions from contracts that don’t expire until 2015, and borrowing more money to pay tax refunds. Moody’s, one of the country’s largest rating agencies, not liking his plan, has downgraded the debt of one of the richest counties in the US to junk status. In criticizing the county, they included a comment that Mangano’s contingency plans needs a contingency plan. The state of New York also announced that there would be no state assistance to Nassau County to bridge the revenue gap.
It’s easy to stand on a podium and in front of television cameras howling about taxes and whipping up anti-government fervor. It’s another thing to have to actually govern. Rand Paul has already hinted that he’ll block raising the federal government’s debt ceiling after he takes office in January, a stupid decision that could throw the world economy into a spiral as the US defaulted on its obligations. If Edward Mangano’s management of Nassau County’s finances is a foreshadowing of Tea Partier’s governance, we all need to brace ourselves for 2011.
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Bob Cavnar is a 30-year veteran of the oil and gas industry with deep experience in operations, start-ups, turn-arounds, and management of both public and private companies. He was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of Milagro Exploration, a large, privately held oil and gas exploration firm based in Houston, Texas with operations along the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi Gulf Coasts, and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Cavnar holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Southern Methodist University and completed the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School.
He blogs at dailyhurricane.com.