Good news! GOP Govs to Be 'Pragmatic,' says NYT
The New York Times breathlessly reports that Republican governors are promising to be pragmatic. Pragmatic means "dealing with things based on practical rather than theoretical considerations," according to Google definitions. That's good! Or is it?
Unfortunately, like the fictional mirror-mirror opposite universe where Superman is evil and Wonder Woman has a man's voice, adjectives used in the New York Times often have the opposite meaning. "Pragmatic" is usually used to mean "liberal," and "ideological" is almost always used to mean "conservative."
It's curious how liberalism, a (disastrous) theory of governance, is never an ideology, according to the New York Times. It's a fact of life, like the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. Where "factual" liberalism has been tried and failed, be it socialist experiments, racial balkanization, or drug legalization, it's not because liberalism isn't "factual," but merely because, as with a fourth-grader rapidly adding sums together, it just wasn't done right.
Conservatism, by contrast, is clearly an ideology, according to the New York Times. The NYT must think there aren't hundreds of years of history showing relatively free markets enriching people, creating huge amounts of wealth for formerly poor people. Liberal writers at the NYT think capitalism has always been about the rich being rich and the poor being poor, and any mobility between the two groups has always been minor, accidental, or due to government intervention. This is why, according to the New York Times way of thinking, conservatism is merely an "ideology."
[Republican] Gov. Brian Sandoval, who was sworn in for a second term last week in Carson City, has gained the upper hand in alliance with moderate Republicans in the Assembly against a crop of no-new-taxes conservatives.
So the "moderate" position is a willingness to consider additional taxes. Can anyone tell me how the "moderate" position differs from the liberal position?
If Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin was the quintessential Republican victor of 2010, jolting his traditionally progressive state by ending public-employee collective bargaining, no one appears poised to be this year’s Scott Walker — not even Mr. Walker himself. As he mulls a run for president, Mr. Walker has said he views a so-called right-to-work bill gaining momentum in the Legislature, which would further limit unions, as a distraction. With Wisconsin facing a $2.2 billion budget gap over two years, Mr. Walker is also playing down suggestions he made a year ago to deeply slash the income tax.
Scott Walker has done a lot of good for Wisconsin in his first term. But what was the point of electing him to serve another term if he's just going to preside over a still bloated state government and a private sector bullied by unions? How is a right-to-work bill a "distraction"? A right-to-work bill is fundamental to freedom of association. It would give workers the right to refuse to pay dues to a union. Now in Wisconsin (and many other states) workers are forced to join unions as conditions for certain jobs. Getting this fundamental right is "ideological"?
I guess when worker are forced to pay dues to a union, that's pragmatic. I wonder if the New York Times staff would think it "pragmatic" if Congress passed a law forcing them to pay ten percent of their paychecks to the NRA or the Tea Party.
In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich, also thought to have presidential ambitions, wants to raise taxes on energy drilling companies to pay for an income tax cut over the objection of a Tea Party faction in the General Assembly.
Kasich wants to rob Peter to pay Paul. When you raise energy taxes, you are not only taxing consumption, but also taxing production. Every product – from food to clothing to technology – is produced using energy. When you raise the cost of energy, you raise the costs of production. Here's an "ideological" idea – cut the income tax without raising other taxes. Don't play sleight-of-hand tricks to give out cash from the left hand and take it away with the right.
Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, who overcame conservative objections to financial aid for Detroit, is proposing higher gasoline taxes to improve roads, an idea that is unpopular on his right.
Why are general revenues insufficient to take care of roads? Isn't that the primary focus of state government – roads, police, and to a lesser extent, education? ( Education is the primary focus of local governments, but these often receive some degree of subsidy from state governments.) And why is it that money earmarked for "roads" often goes to wasteful public-sector employee programs like light rail (which isn't light), high-speed rail (which is usually underutilized), and even programs that have nothing to do with transportation? For example, did you know that the Metropolitan Transportation Association of New York and New Jersey is a major landlord of large office buildings? But that's considered "transportation" spending.
The prospect of sweeping new tax cuts – a cornerstone of Republican orthodoxy – seems to have diminished.
What a relief! But I'm worried that the prospect of sweeping tax hikes – a cornerstone of Democratic orthodoxy – seems to have increased. Who writes like this? Who talks like this?
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott, who was sworn in on Tuesday, laid out an agenda that called for spending billions more on schools, the environment and transportation – a sharp departure from the $3.3 billion in education cuts in his first term, when he also turned away billions in federal aid for high-speed rail.
Oh no, he turned down a high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando! People currently have to drive a little over an hour on the large Interstate Highway 4 to go from Tampa to Orlando. They have no opportunity to park their car in Tampa, take a high-speed train to Orlando, then rent another car to get to their final destination. (Unless they want to take a regular train or a bus, but those already exist and don't require huge new outlays in spending.)
But Governor Scott wants to spend more on schools? He means public schools, doesn't he? I have an idea: instead of spending more on unionized schoolteachers who are judged on seniority, not merit, how about spending more on a voucher program? In other words, spend directly on students, not "schools." Or is that also too ideological?
And how about we not sink more money into the swamp of the Everglades, but rather spend more money on people – or better yet, let people spend more of their own money through tax cuts? As we too often forget, it is, after all, the taxpayer's money, not the government's. Give taxpayers back more of their own money, which is rightfully theirs. Then, if they want to withdraw it from the bank in stacks of ten-dollar denominations, and toss it into the swamp for the alligators and crocodiles to play with, that's their right.
In Arizona, the newly elected Republican governor, Doug Ducey, promised in his inauguration speech on Tuesday not to raise taxes, but omitted mention of campaign pledges to cut income taxes each year.
So I suppose we should be grateful he's not raising them. That's why we should vote Republican – to keep the government large, as opposed to the Democrats, who would make it even larger. When they run for office, they should say, Elect me, and I will maintain everything the Democrats built up – but I won't make it any bigger!
Several Republican governors, including Mr. Haslam of Tennessee and those in Wyoming and North Carolina, have announced their support for some form of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, arguing that it is fiscally smart to accept the billions of dollars in federal aid.
It is not fiscally smart or even intellectually smart or even intellectually honest. The federal government is going to pick up most of the costs of this expansion for the first few years, and then dump it on the states. States are already struggling to pay health costs; this will only make the situation worse. Governor Haslam knows all this, of course, but he also knows that when the bills start coming in, he'll be out of office. In the meantime, he can enjoy flattering pieces in the media showing how "pragmatic" he is.
Governor-elect Larry Hogan of Maryland, who won the most surprising upset of 2014 in a deeply Democratic state, said he had no plans “to push in a conservative direction.”
I wonder if he campaigned this way. Maybe he said, Vote for me – like my opponent, I'm not conservative!
“My election had nothing to do with partisan politics,” Mr. Hogan said in an interview.
Elections have nothing to do with politics? Then what do they have to do with – the weather, the price of tea in China, something else?
In Arkansas, which will have a state government completely controlled by Republicans for the first time in over a century, many expect Governor-elect Hutchinson to proceed in the same sort of pragmatic style as his Democratic predecessor, Mike Beebe.
“I don’t see a dramatic shift in policy between the two,” said Jonathan Dismang, a Republican who is the president pro tempore of the State Senate.
So if you're in Arkansas, and you worried that by voting for a Democrat or a Republican, you made a mistake, there's no need to worry, because no matter how you voted, the outcome is the same. What a relief!
The worst thing about this isn't simply the continuing string of political betrayals by Republicans who campaign one way and then govern a different way. It's also the 1984-esque doublespeak of the media, who portray reasonable as fantasy and fantasy as reasonable.
Pedro Gonzales is editor of NewsMachete.com, the conservative news site.