Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Republicans Blast Cuts That Republicans Wanted

They got want they wanted, they are complaining about what they got, and then they turn around and demand more. Oh, and they also blame the Democrats for the consequences. Could have seen this one coming like that proverbial freight train in the night. Republicans, and their owners at the Chamber, have repeatedly insisted on "more tax cuts" and "living within our means". That is all they know how to say, right? Well, we took some of those steps yesterday, the Bush Recession in effect reducing our revenue better than any tax cut ever could, and still we have the Disciples of Grover performing the mind-wrenching gymnastics of simultaneously saying that the cuts are bad, but we should have made more cuts.

Excuse me, but... huh?

State Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser blasted Granholm's cuts, which were approved by most Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate appropriations committees.

"The Granholm/Cherry administration opts to cut services that impact the health and safety of our families, and is not making necessary structural cuts to the government bureaucracy," Weiser said in a statement, adding that Granholm was relying on the federal government to bail the state out. Emerson responded that many programs have been eliminated permanently in the cuts.

We will put aside the fact that nearly every state in the union is relying on the stimulus to "bail them out", let's concentrate on the other part of that statement. Details, please. What, exactly, does "necessary structural cuts to the government bureaucracy" mean? What IS that? Why haven't the Republicans put forth their ideas on these "structural cuts"? Seems to me that all they have done is this year is insist on more revenue cuts, which of course, would have made this whole thing a lot worse. And, if this is such a bad, bad thing, why did the Republicans in both chambers overwhelmingly vote for it? You've got the Obstructo Man and his Obstructo Senate in place; seems that this would have been the perfect opportunity to save the day and tell us just how we could have avoided these cuts "that impact the health and safety of our families". And yet you didn't.

And the Chamber wants more.

"It is extremely irresponsible for the Governor and Legislature to rely so heavily on one-time federal monies to fund ongoing operations of state government instead of making the dramatic changes that are needed. Everyday across Michigan job providers are forced to tighten their belts to keep their businesses afloat and they expect elected officials to also make the tough choices. The Executive Order approved today does not go nearly far enough or fast enough to right size our government. It is disheartening that the action taken today is more appropriately viewed as a marketing plan for a tax increase and not a blueprint for economic recovery," the group said in a statement.

OK, your turn now. Explain, exactly, what "dramatic changes" means. Explain what "right size the government" entails, with explicit details. And please, put forth the "blueprint for economic recovery" that doesn't involve more tax cuts. We're waiting.

Truth is, they don't have a clue, and they don't have to have a clue. All they have to do now is sit back and mouth the empty words of "reform", while they blame the Democrats for the consequences of this recession. It's easy. No one will ever press them for details on what their grand plan is. No one will ever point out that not using the stimulus money here would have meant that we would have needed to cut $1.3B from the budget with five months left in the year, a feat deemed impossible by all involved. No one will point out that Emerson met with legislative leaders and $304 million in cuts was "as much as anyone could swallow".

And the Senate Republicans promise more cuts to come.

"We don't stop here," said Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township. "I mean, to me, this is a down payment. The beginning of a process."

Sure is. This economy plays right into their hands, just as the Bush economy played into ours in 2008.

Which leads to the most infuriating thing about all of this: The Democrats sit there and take it. They are being set-up and played like a fiddle, no coordinated talking points, no push back, no answer, no nothing. The fact that we have underfunded this government has been laid out for them time and time again, and instead of hammering on this point and telling people the reality of our situation, they stand there like the house by the side of the road. Already this morning the right wing comedy team of reporters/editorialists Dawson and Demas have picked up on the talking points from the Chamber and are scaring people about a tax increase - and so we are losing the jump on the framing of that as well.

The window of opportunity to take control of this argument is closing fast. Better hope that the Republicans keep those low, low approval ratings and insist on shooting themselves in the foot, because that seems to be the only strategy that the Democrats are counting on at this point. This Freep editorial defended the EO cuts better than any Democrat has, pointing out that the numbers are reminiscent of the Great Depression (revenues off 23.5% for the year, more than double the recession of the early 80s), the reasons we had to use the stimulus money right now, and they sum it up with this:

The only thing clear for the long haul is that Michigan cannot continue on as it has. It must reinvent itself as a government in the same way the auto companies are being told to reinvent themselves as manufacturers -- by hanging on to the best and jettisoning the rest. How that concept applies to governing should be the consuming thought for every public official from here on out.

Will the Democrats leave that reinvention in the hands of the Republicans, the Chamber, and their disingenuous and contradictory talking points? Stay tuned.

Thus ends my primal scream therapy for today.