April 10, 2008

Moderately Progressing

Carroll Andrew Morse

Some credit for progress is due to Rhode Island Moderate Party founder Ken Block. His initial presentation of the Moderate Party agenda was almost entirely process-oriented, but the newest version includes some items of substance. Here are a few examples from the Moderate Party website (h/t Ian Donnis)…

  • Decrease or eliminate funding for programs found to be ineffective or too costly for the benefits they provide. A classic example of a well-intentioned but poorly executed spending program is the effort to build 6 houses in South Providence undertaken by the Neighborhood Coalition. These units were built for $345,000 each, and at the time this issue was reported on by the Providence Journal, one unit had sold for $147,000, with no takers for the other units.
  • Bring spending on social services in line with Massachusetts’s spending on the same services, including duration of eligibility for these services.
  • Induce businesses to locate to Rhode Island by bringing RI's business taxes in line with Massachusetts' business taxes.
  • Adopting pension rules similar to the State of Texas called the rule of 85. This rule vests a worker with full pension benefits after 20 years of service, but that pension cannot be drawn upon until the worker's age plus years of service equals 85. With this rule, a worker who begins work at age 25 cannot draw a pension until having worked for 25 years and reaching the age 60. This same worker could stop working at the state job at age 45 (20 years of service) take a new job and keep his or her pension benefits, but those benefits could not be drawn upon until age 65. This same worker could work 30 years, and at age 55 retire and begin collecting pension benefits.
  • Employee health benefits are too costly to the state. Compared to private sector health benefits, state employees are not paying in enough to the system. Savings needs to be wrung out of the system through better negotiated contracts (with more than one health care provider!)
Mr. Block has also offered this observation in the comments section of Anchor Rising…
Conservatives cannot effect change without appealing to a broader coalition of voters, and frankly, the broader coalition of voters needs the conservative bloc to fix what it broken with our state.
So what do the readers of Anchor Rising think, an interesting possiblity, or a duplication of political effort?

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Gee, this would be a good beginning for a platform for the Republican Party. What's the differentiation between the parties, other than that the majority of the state's kneejerk Democrats won't vote for anything called Republican?

Posted by: chuckR at April 10, 2008 3:27 PM

This is the absolute best way to ensure that only democrats are elected in Rhode Island. Bill Lynch says "thank you very much, you go girl!"

Posted by: Jim at April 10, 2008 4:56 PM

This is the absolute best way to ensure that only democrats are elected in Rhode Island. Bill Lynch says "thank you very much, you go girl!"

Posted by: Jim at April 10, 2008 4:56 PM

>>This is the absolute best way to ensure that only democrats are elected in Rhode Island. Bill Lynch says "thank you very much, you go girl!"

Which is pretty much what has been happening for decades.

Many of the proposals would make sense for an RIGOP platform (it would be nice if it had a platform, any platform - atl least we'd know what institutionally it wishes to stand for, one way or another).

I am baffled by Mr. Block's assertions in other venues concerning a third-way from the Republican Party's conservatism.

For decades the problem with the RIGOP is that it has been dominated by "me too" Democrats (a/k/a "moderates") such as Chafee, Avedesian, etc.

One may be able to accuse the RIGOP of a lot of things, but being "conservative" certainly isn't one of them.

If it were, it would start winning more elections, for it would provide a real alternative to the Democrat - union - welfare industry triad.

Posted by: Tom W at April 10, 2008 5:09 PM

While I suppose we should appreciate the effort of anyone wanting to get involved in the political process, it's liable to go the way of the Reform Party, the Green Party, or the Cool Moose Party (sorry Bob, I actually did vote for you once) -- in other words, nowhere.

While, yes, the Republican Party at the national level may be generally considered the "conservative" party relative to the Democratic Party "liberal" (although many grassroots conservatives would contend that the Republican National Committee itself is not a conservative organization), I don't see how anyone with a straight face could ever say that the RIGOP is a conservative organization.

Basically, the platform listed here is the Republican Party platform, stripped of anything regarding social issues. There's nothing original about that. Some "moderates" in the Republican Party try to do it to the national platform every four years. If you want to forget about appealing to 40-50% of the electorate before you even enter a single race, go right ahead, but you're not going to win anything without the ability to create coalitions. In our form of government -- which is not a parliamentary system -- one is generally required to garner more than 50% of the vote in order to govern (although there are some exceptions).

Remember what Maggie Thatcher said about moderates: "Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides."

PS Tom, the RIGOP actually did adopt a party platform last year. It's hardly going to be mistaken for something written by Trent Lott, but it was a start, considering we actually hadn't had a platform since the 1980s. Of course, they might try to publicize it a little bit better.

Posted by: Will at April 10, 2008 5:57 PM


My point is this. If you put one of the so-called independent nit wits in a three way race with Nick Gorham, Bob Watson, Joe Trilo Dennis Algier, you split the normal people vote and hand the race to the progressive democrat. Now if thats your goal, (and don't think this is something that has not occurred to Murphy and Montalbano). We can push RI right over the edge for good. Please don't encourage these dim wits!


Posted by: Jim at April 10, 2008 7:21 PM


I respect your effort. Unfortunately you are wasting your time.

You probably won’t listen to reason but the problem with your approach is it doesn't add power to a good force it dilutes it.

Like others have stated most of your positions would fall into the conservative column of the Republican Party. What do you gain by trying to recreate the wheel? Nothing!

As I mentioned when you first brought your idea to the table, to build a viable political force you need the right ideas, strong and fearless leadership, tons of cash, and lots and lots of people.

You can do the math.


Posted by: Joe Mahn at April 10, 2008 10:07 PM

The proposals don't appear to be overly conservative. It looks like common sense that a Republican or Democrat could live with. While correct that health benefits are too costly to the state, the emphasis shouldn't be on comparing private sector costs to public, rather how best to save money for everybody. Average visit to an emergency room costs around $5000.00 for routine care, it is absurd. Public and private employees fight over who has what while health care providers cash in.

Posted by: michael at April 10, 2008 11:39 PM

I could buy the Moderate Party's agenda. It's got appeal for Republicans who are tired of virtual one-party rule and Democrats sick of the excesses of their leadership. If ever a state needed a third way, it's Rhode Island.
Unfortunately, it's not punitive enough for some folks, I guess.

Posted by: rhody at April 11, 2008 12:16 AM



Why would you inject such a word into this discussion. Is this how you view the motives or purpose of the Moderate Party effort?

If you are then I would say that you are looking at this from a very negative perspective.


Posted by: Joe Mahn at April 11, 2008 1:04 PM

I rarely will dig into the "discussions" on the blogs unless I have some relevance or can unite where there is dissension. That said, I'm compelled again.

As the Chairman of the Platform Committee, I have about had my fill of people saying "It'd be nice if we knew what the Party stood for" or "how can anyone support the GOP without seeing their platform" or "the GOP should adopt the Moderate Party platform".

The problem that we have is that the national Party has promised things and didn't deliver. The state GOP has been infiltrated by "Democrats Lite" (or High Test Democrats...). I, or no one else, can make up for years of mistakes or a national agenda out of Bizzaro World. All we can do is move forward from this point to help the taxpayers take back their state.

As such, a Platform is a political tool - nothing more, nothing less - and politics is about timing. Republican ideals are always Republican ideals: the courage of Lincoln, the vision of Goldwater, the resolve of Reagan and the intellect of Gingrich and Armey. The Platform, is then, a specific plan - in an election cycle - to aid in branding of candidates and set an agenda FOR THAT CYCLE.

We are in a Legislative session right now. I, for one, am not fond of broadcasting to the Democrats our plan for getting candidates elected so that they can then take the best ideas and pass them (in this current session), take credit and go on ruling over the people instead of working for them. There is already a bill from Dems on transparency. Transparency, I assure you, will be a central tenet of the Platform. It has been a big topic of discussion nationally and can be the taxpayers' saving grace. Timing is everything and it is too soon to reveal the overall plan.

We will present a bit at the GOP State Central meeting, against my wishes and better judgement. After Thursday, everyone will get to know what they are supporting in the GOP. I will be the first to stand up and say that, if individuals don't feel connected to the overall ideals of the Republican Party, Mr Block and the Moderate Party await.

I will stay, however, and wear my "Scarlett R" with pride because I am connected to our history and have faith in our heritage. If others do, I invite them to work together for a COMMON good and call themselves not "liberal Republicans", "moderate Republicans", "Chafee Republicans", "Laffey Republicans" or even "Reagan Republicans" but just Republicans. It doesn't take a platform to do that.


Posted by: Jon Scott at April 11, 2008 3:16 PM

"Why would you inject such a word into this discussion. Is this how you view the motives or purpose of the Moderate Party effort?"

Punitive? That doesn't describe the Moderate Party. I used that word to describe those who dismiss the Moderate Party because it doesn't pursue a hardcore social conservative agenda and chooses instead to focus on areas of more general agreement about what's wrong with this state and how to fix it.

Posted by: rhody at April 11, 2008 3:36 PM

>>We are in a Legislative session right now. I, for one, am not fond of broadcasting to the Democrats our plan for getting candidates elected so that they can then take the best ideas and pass them (in this current session), take credit and go on ruling over the people instead of working for them.


If that is what is in fact occurring I agree.

While I'll reserve judgment on the platform until such time as it is released and I can read it, I can certainly support the concept of keeping most or all of it under wraps for a period of time for tactical purposes in an election year.

The "Dark Side" (the axis of the unions / welfare industry / Democrats) certainly doesn't need any assistance; and if withholding the platform for a while can help boot at least a few of them in November, so much the better.

My prior post reflects years of frustration with the RIGOP neglecting a sorely needed role - that of opposition party in Rhode Island, one representing the average citizen against the aforementioned axis. Instead, we've gotten the Chafee ilk that, other than not being corrupt, showed no material differences from the Democrats.

Posted by: Tom W at April 12, 2008 11:23 AM

Not being corrupt is such an insignificant, twiddling, virtually menaingless little thing in Rhode Island, isn't it?

Posted by: rhody at April 13, 2008 8:30 PM

As with quality in automobiles, non-corruption should be a given from every political party, not a point of meaningful "product" differentiation.

Alas, in RI it is very much a meaningful product differentiation between Republicans (rare corruption) and Democrats (systemic corruption).

Alas as well, the voters don't seem to assign much "meaning" to this "meaningful product differentiation."

Posted by: Tom W at April 13, 2008 8:59 PM


So what you are saying then is that any so called “hard core” social agenda would in your opinion be punative in nature or purpose. Is that correct?

If so how would giving aid to widows and orphans be punative? What constitutes a "hard core" social agenda?


Posted by: Joe Mahn at April 14, 2008 12:42 PM
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