GOP tries to sell some double-talk

Steve Brown's picture

The 2009 session of the Georgia General Assembly ended earlier this month. The conclusion of the political hash-making carnival opened the barn door so the local Republican roosters could begin strutting around the barnyard.

State Senator Ronnie Chance and State House Representative Matt Ramsey hit the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) circuit and made some bold pronouncements. Let’s see if we can bring things back into focus.

“Ramsey noted that state government faced declining revenues and instead of raising taxes they cut the size of state government.” Next, “State Senator Ronnie Chance noted that the legislature cut $3.3 billion in spending” (The Citizen, 4-17-09).

They said, “Hundreds of billions of dollars in Bush administration debt are being chased by trillions of dollars of Obama administration debt. The pundits care only about political scorekeeping, so they simply are not equipped to understand the honest-to-goodness, enough-is-enough exasperation of the tea parties,” (Ramsey/Chance, The Citizen, 4-22-09).

But Rep. Ramsey and Sen. Chance willingly, even cheerfully, accepted major allotments of federal cash from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to balance the state’s budget.

Do not get me wrong, the state legislature did make some significant cuts, but to chide the Democrats at the same time they chose to participate in receiving ARRA funding is pretty grungy.

Under the ARRA, Georgia will receive $932 million for highway transportation, $144 million in public transportation, $1.7 billion over the next three years to help pay for Medicaid spending and hundreds of millions for weatherizing and energy improvements in public buildings.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ draft plan is being developed for eventual application to HUD for $10.8 million in stimulus funds under the ARRA. Furthermore, the recently approved federal stimulus package included $59 million in funding for law enforcement in Georgia through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. (Part of these funds, $22.8 million, has been allocated directly from the federal government to local governments.)

What we have is a case of the right hand pointing the finger while the left hand is behind the back receiving the federal cash, balancing the state budget with the same funds they decry as sinful, bragging they did it all on their own.

Alas, the state budget is not really balanced anyway, even with the federal bailout.

Lt. Gov. Cagle admitted failing revenue collections will likely mean dipping further into state reserves, while House Speaker Richardson hinted a special session could be called this fall to cut the state budget even more.

The legislators haughtily exclaimed, “The federal government is now the proud owner of an assortment of private enterprises, including much of the American car industry,” (Ramsey/Chance, The Citizen, 4-22-09). But our state legislature continues to provide fuel tax exemptions for Delta Airlines as well as exemptions for other industries, so where is the “free market” in either case?

Really now, it is not good to complain about federal “socialist” tendencies when the state appears to be engaged in similar activity.

Unfortunately for Georgians, the state legislature failed to pass a bipartisan reform bill aimed at local school boards. In addition, they did not find a permanent source for funding the state’s ragged network of trauma centers as they promised at the end of the prior session.

Bills intended to create funding sources for major transportation projects also failed to pass, adding to years of neglect in this area.

And while Rep. Ramsey applauded the passage of the transportation “reform” bill, it actually makes state transportation more political than ever.

Conservative AJC columnist Jim Wooten says of the supposed reform measure, “One flaw is that it invites campaign money and puts politicians and businessmen in relationships that seriously need watching,” (AJC, 4-7-09).

Democrats are feasting upon the Republicans’ actions not matching their rhetoric.

Former Republican U.S. House Member Joe Scarborough in the May issue of Fortune magazine said Republicans have been “in bed with corporate America” for years, learning “too late that what is good for Wall Street is not always good for capitalism.”

Scarborough says Republicans deserted the philosophy of Adam Smith, following, rather, Bush administration officials, allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to create a housing bubble.

He insists that conservatives should be “more interested in promoting free markets than big business.”

Scarborough concludes, “There is something wrong with a party that preaches capitalism to single mothers while practicing socialism toward corporations. Now is the time for Republicans to start being consistent, to think anew, and begin saying no.”

Personally, I have a difficult time watching President Obama take us down a path that may end with a steep cliff, producing massive debt, creating a poor prognosis for our long-term financial stability.

However, I also fail to envision the Republicans taking the long, straight road, forsaking political games, avoiding lobbyist fascination, doing what they say.

Reform will come eventually, not through government, but by a strong bipartisan grassroots movement demanding ethical behavior and accountability. Historically, such movements appear in cycles, and we are due for the next evolution.

[Steve Brown — who was defeated by Rep. Ramsey in the December 2007 special election for the House District 72 seat — is the former mayor of Peachtree City. He can be reached at]

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mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Fri, 05/01/2009 - 5:53am.

That was for Dan Lakly's unexpired term, I think.
Well opportunity knocks again, Mr. Brown since Logsdon is going to run for statewide office. With Haddix resigning to run for mayor, that's 4 open seats up for grabs this fall. Yes, open, Boone and Plunkett may run again, but they are not really there or re-electable.

In fact Boone's seat is the best. You can attack tax and spend Logdson through him since they always voted in lockstep and you won't get any response from Logsdon since he will have to remain above the fray. Any response from Boone will make Robert Gibbs look almost articulate. A cakewalk. Direct PAC is mostly dead - literally, 3 founders have passed on and the others moved away, so you don't have that mostly imaginary foe.

Go for it big guy. Just promise we can video and broadcast the council meetings.

Submitted by Dondol on Fri, 05/01/2009 - 8:26am.

I hadn't heard this little piece of info, whats our good Mayor Otis Campbell running for, State Alcohol Tester?

Obama's weapon of Choice!

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