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Don Roach: RI GOP’s Passionate Pursuit of Mediocrity

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


This past Sunday, Seattle Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman, railed against a “mediocre” receiver, Michael Crabtree, after his Seahawks defeated Crabtree’s San Francisco 49ers. While mediocre usually caries somewhat negative connotations, the RI GOP’s “Getting to 25” initiative seeks to get the state to the middle of the pack when it comes to a number of different national economic metrics.

In a press release a couple of weeks ago, House Minority Leader Brian Newberry and the six member GOP House delegation unveiled the 16 point plan that is directly focused on the Rhode Island economy. Part of the plan is to exempt Social Security Income from state income tax and having all bills go through a fiscal evaluation prior to being debated on the committee floor. In general terms the plan is to reduce unemployment figures, reduce the tax burden, and increase jobs in the state. Focused, simple, and it’s not like they are going for number one!

At the bottom, mediocrity looks pretty good

But should we be satisfied with mediocrity?

Well, that depends on the eye of the beholder. We’ve been last or near last in unemployment for the past several years and getting to the middle of the pack would be a marked improvement.

So the middle doesn’t look so bad. Obviously, if we were at the top of the economic heap, the middle would be an insult, but we’re not even close to that. Yes, mediocrity isn’t something we want our kids to shoot for or even want for ourselves, in general, but given where our state’s economy is at mediocrity is a good goal.

We must build the foundation to become successful and every journey starts somewhere. The RI GOP is putting gauntlet down and saying we must start here.

What is the Democrat plan?

The elephant in the room is – what in the world are the Democrats doing to address our economy? Well, over at RI Future, they (shockingly…not) took issue with the “Getting to 25” plan and added that it was a plan that wouldn’t connect with voters. They wrote:

The Rhode Island GOP’s new Getting to 25 agenda will likely lead them nowhere with voters. By clinging to their antiquated world views, they have isolated themselves from Rhode Island’s cultural mainstream, which has moved to a place they don’t understand.

If reducing unemployment, reducing the tax burden, and increasing jobs equal “antiquated world views” then the RI GOP is guilty, guilty, guilty! But if the writers at RI Future reflect the majority of Democrats in this state as relates to our economy, then there’s no wonder why our state is in its current economic doldrums. Republicans are often viewed as the curmudgeons and killjoys in politics, holding onto a long dead past. But this plan is anything but and underscores how Rhode Island Republicans are looking to radically change the economic climate in the state.

RI Future illustrates the disconnect the Democratic party has with rank and file Rhode Islanders when they say:

The point is that RI GOP, in their insistence that all is catastrophe, fails to see that a large portion of the state’s population feels otherwise. Until they can connect with dynamic core of modern Rhode Island, they will continue to languish at the polls.

Ranking dead last in unemployment is catastrophe. Ranking near last in tax burden on regular Rhode Islanders is catastrophe. If our economy isn’t in a catastrophic stat, what is a catastrophe? Further, if I’m not mistaken the number one issue facing Rhode Island as identified by Rhode Islanders is the economy . Seems to me that if the RI GOP is focused on addressing Rhode Island’s number one issue, that’s the very definition of being responsible and accountable to the public. It’s a far cry from disconnected RI GOP initiatives of the past and instead demonstrates that the RI GOP is looking to connect ideas with problems that many of us are facing.

I applaud Newberry and the other members of the caucus for encapsulating their goals and presenting ideas Rhode Islanders can get behind. What’s our governor doing to address the problem? Reorganizing the EDC? What are the Democrats doing? What is their plan?

If you know what their plan is, please share it with the rest of us because I don’t know what it is today, didn’t know what it was yesterday, and have no idea what it will be tomorrow.

Can the message reach the masses?

The struggle with the RI GOP has always been viability in a state house dominated by Democrats. I fear the pursuit of mediocrity won’t get to the masses and instead we’ll focus on issues that don’t connect with many voters such as licenses for illegal immigrants or (despite my love for them) pro-life license plates. As important as those issues are to discuss, it’s about the economy, stupid.

If the GOP can be the party that’s talking about putting money back in your pocket and getting you back to work then maybe they have a chance to pick up a few seats this fall and more importantly, pass legislation that aids the state’s economic health.

Unfortunately, Democratic rule has led to nothing but bottom of the barrel economic policies and Democratic critiques that are so out of touch with reality they’re almost laughable.

It’s up to us Rhode Island to make a change.

Three cheers for mediocrity!!

Don can be reached at [email protected] . Please follow Don on Twitter, donroach34.


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