March 10, 2009

GA Democrats Distracting from Their Own Inaction

Justin Katz

An article from yesterday illustrates, first, how much easier it is (politically) to respond to budget proposals than to make them, second, the method by which the Democrats leverage a low-power Republican governor to grandstand, and third, the desire that the General Assembly has to distract from the fact that it is doing next to nothing to resolve budget problems in the current fiscal year:

Key legislative leaders have soured on Governor Carcieri's recommendation that they raid the state's rainy-day fund to balance the budget, calling it an "irresponsible plan that will put the state at tremendous risk."

In a sharply worded letter to Carcieri late Friday, House Finance Committee Chairman Steven M. Costantino and Daniel DaPonte, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said they will recommend that the General Assembly not use the reserve money to close out a lingering $37.4-million deficit from fiscal 2008 budget. Doing so, they say, could leave the state with inadequate cash reserves amid declining revenues.

"By taking from that fund and not paying it back, you put the state at serious, serious risk," Costantino said in an interview last night.

Look. I'd certainly prefer budgets that cut back on actual spending and shrink the heavy hand of government, in this state, but vague promises to "find a way to make up the $37.4 million" are about as valuable as dust in an oxygen tent. Without going back and counting the days, I'd speculate that — with the state spending more than $1 million per day that it does not have — the General Assembly's lethargy in resolving this year's deficit would already have achieved that dollar amount.

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It's always easy to find the folks who will dig in their heels to stop people from working on solutions, they're the ones screaming in front of the cameras, but when challenged to come up with a solution of their own, they have nothing to offer.

Now we just have to wait for tonight when we find out that the $1 million per day spending over revenue was too optimistic. And the solutions offered will be tougher to swallow and the usual gang in the GA will have nothing to offer...again.

Posted by: John at March 10, 2009 7:05 AM

"irresponsible plan that will put the state at tremendous risk."

"the General Assembly's lethargy in resolving this year's deficit would already have achieved that dollar amount."

Honestly ...

Posted by: Monique at March 10, 2009 7:28 AM

"vague promises to "find a way to make up the $37.4 million" are about as valuable as dust in an oxygen tent"

Very apt. Reminds me of the 2 decade old brainless chatter about a "funding formula". Or Liz Roberts and her "health care advocacy". I notice Handy and his crowd aren't even bothering talking up an "Economic Growth Act" for 2009. Guess leadership slapped them down.


Posted by: Mike at March 10, 2009 8:09 AM

>>"irresponsible plan that will put the state at tremendous risk."

This coming from the same folks who for sequential years sold the tobacco money at a discount to raise some quick cash in order to provide a short-term plug for long-term spending excesses.

I was no Laffey acolyte, but he's right - so long as the electorate of Rhode Island keeps sending corrupt Democrat morons to the General Assembly, there's no hope for Rhode Island.

RISDIC. Operation Dollar Bill. Patronage. Self-dealing. And still Rhode Islanders embrace them. It's truly bizarre.

Posted by: Tom W at March 10, 2009 9:17 AM

Tom W
I'm as against corrupt Democratic morons as I am against corrupt Republican morons. But if I have to choose between corrupt Democrats and corrupt Republicans, I tend to side with the Democrats. Let's bring back Chafee, a Republican who understands what real changes are needed.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at March 10, 2009 12:14 PM

OTL, if you really could be honest with yourself, you would not be able to count on one hand the number of Democrats in the RI legislature who are not corrupt. Those you would count, if you could even pick the right ones, are probably conservative leaning and run as Dems because it's so much easier in this state. It really is insane.

"Chafee, a Republican who understands what real changes are needed." That is beyond insane.

To Tom W.'s general point... (I can't say this enough)...You can't fix stupid (thank you Ron White).

Posted by: George at March 10, 2009 1:46 PM

Tom W,

I don't think the behavior you cite is bizarre. The majority of voters left in RI don't want to change the system -- they just want to get more of the benefits that come from "knowin' a guy who has an in." Either than, or they are already so dependent on the system that they deeply fear any change to it -- and I'm not just talking about the public sector unions and the poverty industry -- plenty of RI private sector companies are also in this boat too.

Psychologically, it has been shown that the confirmation bias is a very powerful phenomenon, where people will ignore or heavily discount evidence that conflicts with their views. It is intimately linked to other concepts, like the need to maintain a positive self-image, and some sense of control. For lots of people who are left in RI, facing up to the reality of the current situation and what it portends for their future is just too psychologically painful to contemplate.

So the rational people leave, and the more neurotic stay behind and keep returning the same people to the GA, hoping against hope that somehow it will all work out.

Posted by: John at March 10, 2009 2:30 PM


I can't argue with your logic.

There were probably similar dynamics at play with folks who had the opportunity to get onto the Titanic's lifeboats, but chose to stay on board the "unsinkable" ship ... even as they could see the bow was submerged.

Posted by: Tom W at March 10, 2009 3:59 PM

Tom W

Please get this straight. I am not a Democrat. I am an unaffiliated voter. I have no especial love for the Democratic Party; it is too centrist for my political taste. Go home and write 100 times, "OldTimeLefty is not a Democrat", maybe then your head will clear enough to allow for more political possibilities than R's and D's.

Those of you who live in the "either - or" world of two party politics can see only a tiny section of political possibilites.

I am opposed to corrupt politicians regardless of their political affiliation.

My last vote for the U.S. senate seat went to Linooln Chafee, not to Sheldon Whitehouse. I'll vote for Chafee if he runs again. On the local level, I voted for Sue Sosnowski when she was a Republican and again when she declared as a Democrat. I've said this several times before. Perhaps you missed it!

I try to look at the person before I cast my ballot.

Work on, Tom W, work on it. It's not that difficult to understand.


Posted by: OldTimeLefty at March 12, 2009 6:19 PM
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