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Travis Rowley: The Governor’s Nerve

Saturday, January 18, 2014

 

Democratic delusion is on full display whenever members of America’s socialist party – in the face of overwhelming evidence of their failure to revive the economy – continue to deride capitalism in favor of collectivism; to double-down on a planned economy at the expense of free markets.

This week Governor Lincoln Chafee (D) offered his final State of the State address, a speech that came just several weeks after it was widely reported that Rhode Island “still has [the] second-highest unemployment rate in [the] nation.” This is a reality that didn’t stop Chafee from referencing the State’s “ongoing economic recovery” and insisting that more economic vitality will be realized if we continue to “strategically deploy resources toward carefully selected segments of the state’s economy” – particularly “the arts.”

Chafee’s disingenuousness can be witnessed at the hands of his own words: “Meanwhile our national economy sputters and the wealth disparity grows larger.” How can Chafee expect Rhode Islanders to believe that their local economy is on the cusp of revival if that local economy is well-known to perpetually rank near the bottom of a national economy that – in Chafee’s own words – still “sputters”?

Shut up, man. Stop lying to us.


Status Quo Forever

Having earned a reputation as a state with an oppressive business tax climate, Democratic party leaders decided to work closely with the RI Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) last year, which informed State House Democrats, “While business location decisions are driven by a number of factors…taxation and regulatory environments are two areas in which states and municipalities are able to affect change within relatively short time frames.”

But, judging from Chafee’s latest vision for Rhode Island’s future, it seems RIPEC’s advice will be ignored once again. The small portion of his speech that was dedicated to tax reform made it clear that a potential reduction in tax rates will be conditional and unlikely.

Chafee’s proposed budget “calls for reducing the corporate tax rate to 6.0 percent” and to “eliminate the sales tax on electricity and gas for all businesses.” Also, “the state sales tax would be reduced from 7.0 percent to 6.5%.”

Okay, not bad.

That is, until we realize that all of these measures depend on the passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act – dubious federal legislation that would impose a sales tax on all internet sales, providing Chafee with a “new revenue stream” that would make him more comfortable with reducing local tax rates.

Translation: Rhode Island will not be addressing its smothering tax structure this year. And Chafee has no desire to shrink the overall size of the Rhode Island government. If we want to drop a tax, we must also raise a tax.


Liberal to the Core

The rest of Chafee’s speech could be described as a salute to various progressive sects and causes. In addition to the $35 million he would like to see gifted to “the arts,” Chafee offered rhetorical homage to “state workers,” gay marriage, public education, the children of illegal aliens, and Westerly starlet Taylor Swift.

The Governor also vowed to create a “new Executive Division dedicated to diversity” and to confront climate change – “We know it is happening and humans are causing it.”

Chafee wants state government to double its efforts in regards to its “workforce training and assistance programs,” while also satisfying Keynesians and unionists by floating millions of dollars in government bonds that will pay for more infrastructure projects.

You know, so Rhode Islanders can more easily get around to the jobs they don’t have.


The Left’s Failure. The Right’s Fault.

More disturbing than the delusion and the religious devotion to big-government, however, is Governor Chafee’s nerve. In the opening minutes of Chafee’s speech, he unleashed a preemptive verbal assault against the most disregarded and disenfranchised political group in the State – people whose prescribed economic policies have yet to see the light of day.

Providing cover to his fellow Democrats in the General Assembly, Chafee would take an audacious swipe at – yup – conservatives.

Recalling President Lyndon Johnson’s (D) unmistakably collectivist “War on Poverty,” Chafee called the effort “a war worth fighting,” but admitted, “I don’t think any of us could say it’s a war we’ve won.”

Chafee would then somehow find cause to criticize those who opposed the strategy of that war from its onset: “Unfortunately, the Tea Party and so-called conservatives have waged a war of their own on beneficial social programs that have proven to grow our essential middle class.”

Which is it, Governor? Have the programs associated with the War on Poverty been “beneficial?” Or, after 50 years, have those programs amounted to a war that we have failed to win?

Chafee’s speech revealed that he openly resents the fact that some may be questioning the wisdom behind a big-government welfare state. “It seems as though the battleground in the ‘War on Poverty’ is increasingly the fundamental question of whether the government has a role to play in helping Americans help themselves out of poverty and up into the middle class.”

I guess one could say that Tea Party conservatives have been waging a “war” on the socialist policies that have been engrained into the nation’s political culture and psyche over the past several decades. But Chafee had nothing to say to the fact that this is another “war” that hasn’t been won.

While having made great strides on the state level (not in Rhode Island, of course), in terms of setting policy Tea Party Republicans have been utterly without victory in Washington. New taxes are in place. Thousands of new regulatory measures have been set. Obamacare was passed, and is being implemented. At an all-time high is the amount of Americans receiving food stamps, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance. At an all-time high is federal spending – including deficit spending.

These are the policies that Democrats argued would revive the economy. Yet, it follows that – also at an all-time high – is the amount of Americans who have dropped out of the workforce.

Chafee decides: The Tea Party – conservatives armed with a mere policy wish-list against his actual governmental power – is “unfortunate.”


The Last Resort: George W. Bush

Chafee would employ one more preemptive strike during his final State of the State address, this time against anyone who might have bothered to examine all of his nonsense. Toward the very end of his speech, the Governor reminded everyone that he had “opposed the Bush economic policies because I knew they had the potential to cause a devastating collapse. And they did. And now the national recovery has been too slow, but we are moving in the right direction.”

First off, Bush’s economic policies didn’t cause the Great Recession.

Secondly, in the sixth year of Obama’s presidency, our Democratic governor is still attempting to cash in on the unpopularity of Obama’s predecessor.

That’s not leadership.

And the record is clear: Progressives own this abysmal economy.


Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.

 

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