Friday, January 15, 2016
Republican Governors (in no particular order) at Work -- From the Recent Past to the Present
My opinion on last night's T-GOP debacle is perfectly expressed by P.m.Carpenter:
Maine: Republican Governor Paul LePage
PORTLAND, Maine — Long before Donald Trump laid waste to political correctness, there was Maine Gov. Paul LePage.
For five years now, the Republican has hurled crude insults, heaped abuse on the media and offended many with his brass-knuckle tactics and off-the-cuff remarks — most recently last week, when he complained that out-of-state drug dealers with names like "D-Money, Smoothie and Shifty" are getting Maine's white girls pregnant.
On Thursday, lawmakers take up a longshot bid to impeach him, and while the chief allegation against LePage is abuse of power, not lack of civility, it is clear there is a lot of ill will toward the governor in both parties over what many regard as his bull-in-a-china-shop manner.
Louisiana: Former Republican GovernorBobby Jindal
From The American Conservative:
I keep telling my friends in the national media that if you think Bobby Jindal [had] a chance in hell of becoming president, send a reporter down to spend a few days in Louisiana, seeing what condition he’s leaving his state in.
In today’s NYT, Campbell Robertson tells the country about the current mess. Excerpts: “Since I’ve been in Louisiana I’ve never seen a budget cycle as desperate as this one,” said Robert Travis Scott, the president of the Public Affairs Research Council, a nonpartisan group based in Baton Rouge. Louisiana’s budget shortfall is projected to reach $1.6 billion next year and to remain in that ballpark for a while. The downturn in oil prices has undoubtedly worsened the problem, forcing midyear cuts to the current budget. But economists, policy experts and lawmakers of both parties, pointing out that next year’s projected shortfall was well over a billion dollars even when oil prices were riding high, turn to a primary culprit: the fiscal policy pushed by the Jindal administration and backed by the State Legislature.
In a state the size of Louisiana, the shortfall is huge. But it is all the more daunting considering that the governor has unequivocally ruled out any plans for new revenue, bone-deep cuts have already been made to health care and higher education, ad hoc revenue sources that could be found to fill the gap have been all but drained and that robust economic growth, which might cushion the blow, has yet to materialize.
Virginia: Former Republican Governor Bob McDonnell
Supreme Court lets McDonnell stay out of jail
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell won a reprieve from the Supreme Court on Monday, as the justices issued an order allowing him to stay out of jail while his lawyers try to persuade the high court to hear his challenge to his convictions last year on a slew of corruption charges.
Without the action from the Supreme Court, McDonnell would likely have had to report to federal prison in the coming weeks or months to begin serving a two-year sentence. The justices acted without any recorded dissent and did not offer any rationale for their action.
The Justice Department had urged the court to deny McDonnell's request for a stay.
A jury in Richmond convicted McDonnell in 2014 on 11 counts of corruption after finding that the former governor did a series of favors for businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for loans and gifts the dietary supplement promoter lavished on McDonnell and his family.
Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback
From The Kansas City Star:
"...an appetite for high risk doesn’t fully explain Sam Brownback. Anyone who wants to understand him must combine risk with faith: Brownback’s absolute belief that the path he has chosen for Kansas will succeed. “He does believe he is doing God’s work,” said author Jeff Sharlet, who once spoke at length with the governor.
Both traits — the absolutism of faith, the enthusiasm for risk — first emerged when Brownback entered public life more than 20 years ago. They took him from a central Kansas farm to a credible campaign for president.
Now the governor finds himself in another place, with a cratering budget, national humiliation and the potential end of his presidential dreams.
Perhaps it was inevitable. “He’s really a good man. I can’t emphasize that enough,” a longtime associate and supporter said. “He’s willing to make the big moves. I think the public likes that about him. “What he is not able to do is admit when he’s done something wrong.”
From The Topeka Capital-Journal:
The unexpectedly deep swoon in tax collections and resulting budget deficits of 2014 and 2015 appear to have undercut optimism the 2012 tax changes alone were capable of delivering a surplus to the state treasury.
After winning re-election to a second term, Brownback proposed in January escalation of the liquor, cigarette and sales taxes. He recommended modification of other tax policies to close a $700 million budget gap.
The GOP-led House and Senate, following months of political acrimony, voted to impose the largest tax increase in state history and pull the plug on a march to zero income tax. Brownback signed legislation raising taxes about $400 million annually.
In June, the governor and legislative leaders on the Kansas Finance Council agreed to borrow a record $840 million to cover the state government’s cash-flow issues in the current fiscal year.
Michigan: Republican Governor Rick Snyder
Something is rotten in the state of Michigan.
One city neglected to inform its residents that its water supply was laced with cancerous chemicals. Another dissolved its public school district and replaced it with a charter school system, only to witness the for-profit management company it hired flee the scene after determining it couldn’t turn a profit.
Numerous cities and school districts in the state are now run by single, state-appointed technocrats, as permitted under an emergency financial manager law pushed through by Rick Snyder, Michigan’s austerity-promoting governor. This legislation not only strips residents of their local voting rights, but gives Snyder’s appointee the power to do just about anything, including dissolving the city itself — all (no matter how disastrous) in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”
If you’re thinking, “Who cares?” since what happens in Michigan stays in Michigan, think again. The state’s aggressive balance-the-books style of governance has already spread beyond its borders. In January, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appointed bankruptcy lawyer and former Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr to be a “legal adviser” to Atlantic City. The Detroit Free Press described the move as “a state takeover similar to Gov. Rick Snyder’s state intervention in the Motor City.”
Florida: Republican Governor Rick Scott
From the Orlando Sentinel:
IF someone accused Rick Scott of being a liar who abused the power of his office, I wouldn't normally call that big news. I might just call it Tuesday.
Scott, after all, is one of the least popular governors in Florida history. And he's been dogged by critics since the day he stepped in office. But the latest accusations against Scott aren't coming from longtime critics. They're coming from one of Florida's top law-enforcement officials — a respected veteran who worked closely with the governor for the past four years.
And that, my friends, is a big deal ... and why Scott now has a full-fledged scandal on his hands. For those who missed it, the former head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement — 35-year-veteran Gerald Bailey — has started spilling the beans.
Bailey portrays Scott and his staff as a group of unethical, hard-core politicos who would go to great lengths — willing even to fabricate a criminal investigation — to get themselves out of a jam.
Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker
Scott Walker Corruption Case Threatens to Implicate Wisconsin Supreme Court JusticesProsecutors want the US Supreme Court to weigh in.
It's the campaign scandal that just won't die. For three years, prosecutors in Wisconsin tried to investigate what they believed was illegal campaign coordination between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and conservative outside groups. The investigation has become a political flash point in the state: Walker and conservatives claim it is a witch hunt led by liberal prosecutors, while liberals believe it is about the power of dark money in Wisconsin politics.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court dismissed the case, but on Friday, the case moved to the national stage when prosecutors signaled their intention to take it to the US Supreme Court. And the focus is now set to shift from the actions of Walker and his allies to potential ethical violations by the Wisconsin Supreme Court justices themselves.
New Jersey: Republican Governor Chris Christie
From the New Jersey Star-Ledger:
For those trusting souls who still believe the governor's internal report on the Bridgegate scandal, there is unsettling news: A federal judge just kicked the guts out of it with a sweeping condemnation that will forever brand it as an expensive cover-up.
"The taxpayers of New Jersey paid ... millions of dollars to conduct a transparent and through investigation," wrote U.S. District Court Judge Susan Wigenton. "What they got instead was opacity and gamesmanship. They deserve better." Indeed, they do. Wigenton's 10-page bombardment focuses on the smarmy tactics that attorney Randy Mastro and his crew at Gibson Dunn used to block the release of findings that could damage Gov. Chris Christie.
And we'll get to that.
Last week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich became the first to run a TV ad that knocks Christie's dreary record as governor. And in Tuesday's debate, Sen. Rand Paul used Bridgegate as a battering ram to attack Christie's judgment.
After Christie huffed again about shooting down Russian planes in Syria, Paul responded with this: "When we think about the judgment of someone who might want World War III, we might think about someone who might shut down a bridge because they don't like their friends."
Christie’s approval rating drops lower than ever, poll shows
Bad news for Gov. Chris Christie. The latest poll numbers show that New Jerseyans are more dissatisfied than ever with the job the governor is doing and they feel the state is headed in the wrong direction.
Massachusetts: Republican Governor Charlie Baker
The Most Popular Politician in America
Surprise! Surprise! In deep blue Massachusetts, our governor, Republican Charlie Baker, is wildly popular. He's an old fashioned Republican -- not a Tea Party ideological nut, and that's paid off for him in liberal Massachusetts. He has an enviable 70+% approval rating in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1.
It is also interesting to note that deep blue Massachusetts has elected more Republican governors than Democrats. Again, that's because those governors worked WITH the Democratic legislature, not against it, and they showed a willingness to compromise to get things done.
Our other popular Republican governors in our recent past: Frank Sargent, Bill Weld, even Mitt Romney, who brought us Romneycare; and as a result, Massachusetts has the lowest uninsured rate in the country -- 3%.
An example of Governor Baker working with popular Boston Democratic mayor, Marty Walsh:
A united front from Marty Walsh and Charlie Baker wins over General Electric
General Electric’s move to Boston is a political home run for both Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who put aside recent frictions to present a unified front that impressed the global powerhouse. “This opportunity would not have happened if we did not have a collaboration between the Republican governor of Massachusetts and the Democratic mayor of Boston,” Walsh told the Herald yesterday.
“The fact that there was no daylight between the administration at the state level and the administration at the city level,” Baker said, “certainly provided a significant amount of support for the notion that not only were we working together, but we would be able to continue to work together to actually implement and execute on the plan.”
Just imagine what could have been accomplished on a national level if the Congressional Republicans had cooperated with our Democratic president. Massachusetts scored big with General Electric's decision to move its headquarters here. This is the sort of thing that happens when politicians act like grown-ups and not petulant toddlers.