Listening to the choir

December 15, 2008 · Posted in Delaware politics, Delmarva items, Politics · 1 Comment 

This was yet another blog idea which landed in my mailbox; as always it took root in my fertile mind and began the questioning process. I haven’t talked a whole lot about Delaware lately, but this item was chosen especially for my friends there:

Governor-elect Jack Markell will host a public town hall meeting, Tuesday, December 16, to solicit ideas from Delawareans as to how his administration can make state government as effective and efficient as possible. Due to the national economic downturn, Delaware is facing significant revenue shortfalls over the next two fiscal years, and Gov.-elect Markell is looking for innovative, out-of-the-box ideas to cut spending. 

The meeting will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the DART/DTC auditorium on 119 Lower Beech St., which is in the Wilmington Riverfront area.

Please feel free to share this invitation with persons who you think would be interested in attending.

All right Jack, consider your request done. Now I have a question on the philosophy of this townhall meeting that your incoming administration should consider.

First of all, this announcement of yours brought to mind something that you said when you first announced to be Governor of the First State. I’ve been on Jack’s e-mail list since his Treasurer run in 2006, and it didn’t take me long to comb my archives to find this nugget from June 19, 2008:

I didn’t want to play favorites. I care about every inch of this state, and I will be governor for every single Delawarean. It only makes sense that my campaign will kick-off in every single town. We have great momentum. Up and down the state, my fellow Democrats are telling me they are ready for new ideas, and a new direction. I’m ready to bring new leadership to Dover, and bring bold Democratic solutions to the problems we are facing in cities and towns all over Delaware.

Yet when it’s time to begin to consider what you’re doing to combat Delaware’s budget shortfall, you schedule this town hall meeting in an area where you drew most of your support, at a time hard-working Delaware residents would find inconvenient at best. Perhaps this will make a good backdrop for the on-the-scene news report during the 6:00 evening local news (with film at 11, as the old television saying goes) but to me it would be more like preaching to the choir. Maybe budget cuts aren’t the “bold Democratic solutions” you were thinking about when you signed up to run for the gig, but it’s the hand you’ve been dealt by your Democrat predecessor. Certainly states aren’t alone in having to make hard choices – ask the half-million plus Americans who went to sign up for unemployment benefits a week ago.

Nor is this the example I would expect from a campaigner who made outstanding efforts to reach out to everyone in the state by scheduling 57 campaign events in 57 hours and through his Tour de Delaware. I may disagree with the ideas Jack has, but can’t fault the hard work involved in getting them out on a personal basis (especially as a guy who’s rediscovered the joy of getting the bike out when the weather’s nice over the last summer as my physical shape improved.)

In order to be a governor for everyone in Delaware, I would hope that your budget-cutting meeting isn’t just a one-time deal and that you seek to spend more time listening to your opposition and considering good counter-arguments as they apply to what they have to propose. Had I decided to locate my abode just a few miles north of where I live now I would be one of those you govern over, and you do directly affect many good friends of mine who live just across the Mason-Dixon Line in Sussex County. I’m sure a good deal of the residents at the southern end of the state already have the “red-headed stepchild” complex of being the forgotten part of Delaware.

Here in Maryland Governor O’Malley preaches a “One Maryland” concept but only seems to govern in the interest of those who live within a few miles of the I-95 corridor between Baltimore and Washington. Governor-elect Markell, if you truly want to be a different kind of Democrat it behooves you to meet face-to-face with voters all over your state as you did while campaigning, not just give the time to those who gave you the votes to be elected.

Crossposted on That’s Elbert With An E.

Senator against government waste

December 15, 2008 · Posted in Business and industry, Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics · Comments Off 

I have Pat Toomey and the Club For Growth to thank for this one.

Earlier this month one of my favorite Senators, Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn, put out a report on the worst examples of government waste in 2008. (I suppose one could argue this report by one who’s on the public payroll and his publicly-funded staff would be an example of wasting money and time compiling such nonsense, but it is a small price to pay.)

Really, the first paragraph in the executive summary says it all:

Politicians in Washington outdid themselves in 2008, wasting taxpayer money in ways and amounts once thought unimaginable – all without blushing. So outrageous was the spending, an outside observer would be forced to think that not only do Americans love to pay taxes, but that the federal budget was in a state of perpetual surplus. This report is an attempt to pull back the curtain on 65 examples of wasteful Washington spending worth more than $1.3 billion, and by doing so, provide a mechanism to hold Congress accountable for fiscal responsibility. It is time for Washington to stop recklessly spending other peoples’ money and burdening future generations with insurmountable national debt.

I’ll have to admit that when we’re looking at a budget deficit which could be 1,000 times the amount of waste Senator Coburn found the effort is fairly symbolic at best. But it serves as a talisman to point out that we really have stuck our federal (and state) governments into many places they don’t belong, like my other example.

As we found out on Friday, the proposed $15 billion bailout to the Big Three (read: United Auto Workers) died for lack of cloture in the Senate. In the same e-mail the Club For Growth handily put in the House and Senate votes on the issue. While it’s not unexpected that the local Maryland and Delaware delegations basically split along party lines, it’s more telling that neither of the two local participants in the 110th Congress who won’t return failed to vote; neither Biden or Gilchrest recorded a vote. Particularly in the Senate, where 13 Senators did not vote and the measure failed by eight, the timing of the lame duck session made a difference – most of the non-voters were leaving the Senate after this term.

In any case, for the moment American taxpayers have dodged one expensive bullet – unfortunately the Democrats are rolling into Washington with an arsenal of bright ideas to spend your money on.

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