Unfair & Unrealistic Criticism of RI GOP Lawmakers: Guest Mindsetter™ Deckman

Saturday, July 01, 2017


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The House Republican caucus recently came under attack for not being more vocal about promoting their pro-taxpayer. pro-small business agenda during the recent budget debate. While I understand the frustration coming from the “audience,” many of who are supporters, I feel compelled to address what I consider to be unfair and even unrealistic criticism. 

I recently got to see the House Republican caucus at work from the inside. 

View on the Ground

I was given an opportunity to work in the House Minority office for two months until the budget was passed. My role was to work with the caucus to help develop, research and articulate policies and budget articles.

Over the past 30 years I have played many roles in the political space. I felt I had seen most of what was to see in politics. I was wrong. The view I got from beingon the “inside” of the budget process was both educational and unsettling.

The following are the top half-dozen observatoins that stand out the most as I look back over the experience.

1.The minority caucus is outnumbered 64 to 11 but they never back down. Day after day they and their team painstakingly researched innovative and realistic ideas that would lower taxes, grow the economy and ferret out corruption. Day after day they would go to their committees and the House floor to fight for those ideas. And day after day I would watch them as they came back without their ideas being seriously considered either because they came from a Republican or were challenging a powerful special interest that controlled the Speaker. 

2. I was surprised by how hardcore partisan the Democrat leadership is in that building. The level of political disrespect and condescension displayed by them and their followers against intelligent and thoughtful ideas that come from people who happen to be Republicans was shocking. True leaders listen to everyone who offers sound solutions to solve a crises regardless of their political prejudices. 

3. I also witnessed their idea to relieve local communities and taxpayers from having to pay union wages for all school construction projects soundly defeated. The proposal could save $200 million, accelerate much needed school repairs, and increase construction jobs. Perhaps no vote more clearly demonstrated who controls the state more than this one. Watching 60+ Democrats choose unions over their children was stunning.

4. The Republican proposal to redirect monies from the Commerce Corporation to provide immediate tax relief for small businesses to spur our local economy and kick start job growth was also soundly defeated. Their thinking was that since 99.5% of Rhode Island businesses are small businesses who employ over 275,000 Rhode Islanders, the best use of millions of dollars of economic development monies is to feed these businesses instead of gambling millions trying to lure mega-corporations who have no loyalty to us and who only promise jobs.

5. Next came their attempt to reform the disability pension system. The Democrat caucus swiftly killed that idea as well even though they all know these pension programs are immensely flawed; are far too lenient and are dragging down the entire pension system. 

6. They then proposed an Office of Inspector General to identify, root out and prosecute government waste, fraud and corruption. Everyone admits this office is absolutely necessary and would be highly effective. In fact many Democrats spoke in favor of the idea. They then voted in lock step with leadership to kill it.

In the Arena

I could go on an on but the bottom line is this: The state is currently in the exact same financial death spiral, for the exact same reasons, that killed Detroit and is currently crushing Illinois. Regardless what they say in public the Governor, the Speaker and the Senate President all know this inconvenient truth. Yet the small contingency of Republicans are the only ones crafting sweeping solutions, holding press conferences, and are forcing debate and votes on these important issues.

So, when I see the criticism leveled at the Republican House Caucus for not doing enough to turn the state around its like I am listening to spectators of the battle of Thermopylae criticizing the 300 Spartans for not doing more to defeat 150,000 Persian warriors.

To those critics I can only suggest they read Theodore Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena speech. 

But don’t take my word on anything I just said. Watch the clips below and see for yourself. And remember this: none of these amendments passed.

Choosing children needs over union desires.

A solid economic development strategy and jobs strategy.

Going beyond Minimum Wage

In support of an anti-corruption Inspector General

Supporting the Rhode Island economy 

The budget mirage explained


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Jeffrey Deckman is a leadership consultant focused upon helping Rhode Island businesses to grow. He can be reached at [email protected] 


Related Slideshow: RI Democrats React to Trump’s Budget - 2017

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Gina Raimondo 

RI Governor 

"Rhode Island is making strong progress to provide our people with the education and job training they need to be successful and to expand access to affordable, quality health care to virtually everyone in our state. 

President Trump's budget betrays Rhode Islanders by giving huge tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans while drastically reducing federal funding for vital programs that create jobs, raise wages, and protect low-income Americans. 

Even as we analyze President Trump's budget in the coming days to determine its specific impacts on Rhode Island, I appreciate the members of Rhode Island's Congressional Delegation for their leadership and advocacy, and I join them in calling on their colleagues in Washington, D.C. to stop the Trump administration from making massive cuts to health care, public schools, affordable housing, and other programs that Rhode Islanders rely upon."

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Jim Langevin 

U.S. Congressman

“In March, President Trump released a budget outline that I strongly condemned for its drastic cuts to programs that help everyday Americans. Unfortunately, the President’s full budget proposal continues these harmful policies by gutting programs that invest in our economy, create jobs and provide crucial assistance to families across the country. 

This proposal slashes funding for education, food assistance and health care for low-income seniors, children and people with disabilities. It makes cuts to worker training, environmental protection, and investments in medical research and advanced manufacturing. These are not mere luxuries, but programs that make meaningful differences in the lives of Rhode Islanders. 

Congress must reject this cynical and misguided budget. Instead, we should work together in a bipartisan manner, as we did on the recently passed 2017 funding bill, to find a balanced approach to funding priorities that will support families, promote economic growth and provide for our national security.”  

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David Cicilline

U.S. Congressman

“If a budget is a statement of your priorities and values, then Donald Trump’s budget shows he doesn’t understand the challenges facing honest, hardworking Rhode Islanders. This is a budget written by the wealthiest Americans for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. But it’s a setback for the middle class. It makes life harder for anyone who’s trying to punch a ticket to the middle class.”

Donald Trump has already proposed a huge tax cut for billionaires. But the budget he released today says everyone else is on their own. This budget eliminates hundreds of millions of dollars for job creation. It zeroes out funding for workforce training and good-paying manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island. And it makes it even harder for young people to succeed by cutting teacher training, eliminating afterschool funding, and making it harder to pay off student loans.”

This budget does nothing to address Rhode Island’s crumbling infrastructure. It eliminates the TIGER grant program, which is critical to supporting local infrastructure projects like the new commuter rail station in Pawtucket. And it cuts funding for public transit by $928 million.”

And most worrisome of all, this budget makes our towns and cities less safe. It actually cuts funding for firefighters. It cuts billions from the EPA and other resources to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe. And it slashes $978 million from the Army Corps of Engineers – meaning Rhode Island will be less prepared for hurricanes and have fewer resources to protect the quality of our waterways.”

Plain and simple, this is not a budget that any Member of Congress should be comfortable supporting. Along with my colleagues in the House Democratic Leadership, I will do everything I can to reverse these devastating cuts and shape a budget that invests in the future of our country and puts honest, hardworking families first.”

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Sheldon Whitehouse 

U.S. Senator

“This budget is reckless, plain and simple. The President proposes massive cuts to Medicaid, breaking yet another campaign promise. He seeks to decimate the federal government’s central command in the battle against the opioid crisis affecting communities from Burrillville to Westerly. He pursues tens of billions of dollars in cuts to student loans and loan forgiveness programs.

His plan would slash funding for research into life-saving cures; lay waste to endowments that support Rhode Island’s world-class cultural institutions; hamstring the EPA so big polluters can poison our air and water; and weaken NOAA, sapping critical resources for coastal economies like Rhode Island’s. The list goes on.

These senseless, irresponsible choices serve one purpose: to pave the way for tax cuts for the very wealthiest.  The good news is that this extremist proposal will go nowhere in the Senate. I look forward to moving past this political stunt of a budget and working on one the American people will support.”

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Jack Reed 

U.S. Senator

“President Trump’s budget is bad news for Rhode Island because it weakens our economy and places new burdens on families, businesses, and communities across the country. 

The Trump budget takes a less is more approach: less investment in education, health care, transportation and safety for the general public and more pollution, outsourcing jobs overseas, and tax breaks for the wealthy and well-connected.

This irresponsible budget would be a real setback for middle-class families and seniors in particular.  The $800 billion in Medicaid cuts could cause over 10 million low-income Americans to lose their health coverage.  If this budget were enacted, more elderly Americans could be forced to go from assisted living to living on the streets.  That is immoral and ill-advised.

The Trump cuts also threaten federal funding for public education, medical research, job training and economic development. These cuts are counterproductive and won’t achieve real cost-savings.  In fact, they would impede economic growth.

Families with limited incomes who are trying to make ends meet get hit hardest by the Trump budget.  It takes food, health care, and retirement security away from children, seniors, and people with disabilities while adding funds for an ineffective border wall and tax cuts for millionaires.  It eliminates the LIHEAP energy assistance program, Community Development Block Grants, and many other critical, cost-effective programs that have a positive impact on Rhode Island. 

While our military deserves to be well-funded, cutting diplomacy and foreign aid won’t help prevent war.  These are the wrong priorities for America and don’t reflect our core values.

I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight these disastrous cuts and enact a more balanced, fiscally responsible budget that focuses on job creation and strengthening the middle-class.”


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