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House Budget: Democrats Set ‘Pathetically’ Low Standards

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


While Democrats pat themselves on the back and receive praise from various political corners for their recent budget proposal, we are reminded of just how pathetically low the legislative standards are for General Assembly Democrats. Yay! They didn't raise our taxes too much!

Relativity can be a dangerous drug.

With Lincoln Chafee suffering the initial public scorn for his own tax-and-spend budget proposal, intimidated Democrats returned months later with a better-than-expected proposal of their own – a budget that is balanced with department mergers, the continued dilapidation of public property and public pensions, new fees, new taxes, and an unexpected revenue discovery.

Only the tiniest of bites will be taken out of the labor and poverty industries. State employees’ automatic annual pay raises will be suspended (but they will still receive pay raises this year that will cost the taxpayers $25.3 million dollars). And there will be no tightening of welfare eligibility requirements, but welfare recipients making over $33,000 will see their monthly RIte Care premiums go from $61 to $91. Awwww!

Still, Linda Katz is pissed! The policy director at the Poverty Institute calls the premium increase “very troubling.” President of Ocean State Action Kate Brock is “happy to see some new taxes,” but wanted to see the state’s business environment erode even further by increasing taxes on corporations, and others she deems “wealthy.”

These are the types of out-of-touch progressive activists that Democrats are beholden to (and truly sympathize with). Ultimately, that's why Rhode Islanders breathe a sigh of relief when their taxes are raised only slightly, and why they have a propensity to embrace Rep. Helio Melo’s (D) laughable celebration of the Democrats’ budget proposal as a “balanced approach” that “puts Rhode Island on a good footing.”

Rhode Islanders, your state is not on a “good footing.” The Democrats’ budget simply isn’t as bad as Chafee’s, and is a marked improvement from their own past practices.

The RI Democrat Party is looking like a child who has just taken his first steps. The only problem is that the child is 12 years old. And everyone’s aware that there’s clearly something wrong with him.

Low Standards for Democratic Budgets

The relief being expressed over this budget proposal is just the latest example of the sorry yardstick by which Democrats are measured. Yes, he keeps increasing my taxes. And, sure, he’s dating my wife. But he cares about poor people. Plus, he shook my hand at Home Depot. He’s a really good guy!

That’s how easy it is for Democrats to get re-elected in Rhode Island.

Today, Democrats are practically being canonized for finally adopting Republican initiatives. Progressive Democrat Angel Taveras is being hailed for taking on Providence public unions, enjoying a 52% approval rating while he manages a collapsing state capital. And Gina Raimondo is receiving widespread praise for finally echoing Republican warnings over the state pension fund. Whispers of her 2014 gubernatorial run are turning into pleas and cheers.

This is what it has come to in Rhode Island. Rhode Islanders have come to expect so little from their government that any Democrat who simply tells the truth is thought of as a future candidate for governor.

But it’s not difficult to tell the truth as you hang over a cliff.

Republicans, on the other hand, have been warning of the coming pension calamity for years. In 2005, Republicans held a rally at the Statehouse, crying out once again for pension reform. Labor leader and fierce Democratic backer Bob Walsh confirmed Republicans’ steady and longstanding advocacy when he mocked the Republican crowd: “Republicans support pension reform. Well, yeah. Where's the story? Where's the news?" In similar fashion, former Speaker of the House William Murphy (D) once criticized Republicans for spending all their time at the Statehouse “making noise.”

Only now, as Rhode Island crumbles, are Democrats beginning to soften their big-government approach.

And everyone seems quite impressed.

After Friday’s budget hearing, Minority Leader Brian Newberry (R) pointed out that “there are a lot of ideas in this budget that Republicans have been pushing for years." Perhaps it’s time for Rhode Islanders to begin electing people who are proven correct over and over again as the years go by – rather than electing people for whom the bar is so very low.

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Travis Rowley is chairman of the RI Young Republicans, and a consultant for the Barry Hinckley Campaign for US Senate.


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