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A Contrast In Courage

- February 22, 2011

Across The Country, Republicans Are Taking The Lead To Solve Fiscal Crises While Democrats Literally Run From The Problem

THE FEDERAL BUDGET

REPUBLICANS LEAD: On Saturday, The Republican-Led House Of Representatives “Made Good On Its Pledge” And Passed Continuing Resolution Containing $60 Billion In Spending Cuts. “The House early Saturday approved a huge package of spending cuts, slashing more than $60 billion from domestic programs, foreign aid, and even some military projects, as the new Republican majority made good on its pledge to turn the grassroots fervor of the November elections into legislative action to shrink the size and scope of government. The vote, of 235 to 189, was a victory for the large, boisterous class of fiscally conservative Republican freshmen that is fiercely determined to change the ways of Washington and that forced party leaders to pursue far bigger cuts than originally planned.” (David M. Herszenhorn, “House Votes To Cut $60 Billion, Setting Up Budget Clash,” The New York Times, 2/19/11)

  • The Cuts Were $100 Billion Below President Obama’s Budget Request For The Year. “The House on Saturday passed a Republican bill that cuts federal spending by $61 billion below current levels, or $100 billion below President Obama's budget request for fiscal year 2011. Obama's budget was never enacted.” (Mike Lillis, “Schumer: GOP Puts Congress On Course For Inevitable Government Shutdown,” The Hill, 2/20/11)

THE DEMOCRAT RESPONSE: Obama Threatened To Veto The House-Passed CR, Which Could Cause A Government Shut-Down. “The Continuing Resolution (CR) bill currently on the House floor would keep the government operating past March 4. Some version of the CR is needed to avoid a shutdown since the Democratic-led Congress failed to pass a budget last year. Congress in December passed a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating through March 4. … The Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday issued a statement indicating that Mr. Obama will veto the CR bill as it stands …”  (Stephanie Condon, “Is a Government Shutdown in March on the Table?” CBS News, 2/16/11)

  • Democrats Actively Talk About A Government Shutdown, Hoping To Have “Political Edge On The Issue.” “Senate Democrats are talking about a possible government shutdown more than Republicans, a sign that Democrats are confident they have the political edge on the issue. Senate Democrats have met with senior White House officials in preparation for an intense clash with Republicans over government spending levels and a proposal to increase the national debt ceiling. The three highest-ranking Senate Democratic leaders warned on Thursday that a shutdown is a real possibility.” (Alexander Bolton, “Government Shutdown On The Lips Of Senate Democrats, Not Republicans,”  The Hill2/4/11)

THE DEBT CRISIS

REPUBLICANS LEAD: Republicans Have Vowed “To Include Entitlement Reforms In Their Forthcoming Budget.” “House Republican leaders vowed Tuesday to include entitlement reforms in their forthcoming budget to help begin the ‘adult conversation’ on reform that President Obama said he desired. ‘Our budget will lead where the President has failed, and it will include real entitlement reforms so that we can have a conversation with the American people about the challenges we face and the need to chart a new path to prosperity,’ House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a joint statement with the rest of the GOP leadership team and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).” (Michael O'Brien, “GOP Vows Its Budget Will Include Plans For Entitlement Reform,” The Hill, 2/15/11)

THE DEMOCRAT RESPONSE: A Senior Democrat Aide Called Republicans “Suckers” For Offering To Show Leadership On Entitlements. “‘They are suckers,’ said one senior Democratic Congressional aide of the House GOP plans to release the first detailed proposals to reduce entitlement spending. ‘They have painted themselves into a corner.’” (Glen Thrush, “Has Obama Set GOP Entitlement Trap?”  Politico2/16/11)

  • The Reason Republicans Must Now Take The Lead Is Because When Given The Chance To Show Leadership With His Own Budget, Obama “Chose Instead To Duck” Behind “The Sort Of Budgetary Gimmicks He Once Derided.” “Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck. To duck, and to mask some of the ducking with the sort of budgetary gimmicks he once derided.”  (Editorial, “President Obama's Budget Kicks The Hard Choices Further Down The Road,” The Washington Post, 2/15/11)

OHIO

REPUBLICANS LEAD: Ohio Gov. John Kasich “Is Determined To Transform State Government Into A Smaller, Less-Expensive And, He Assures, More-Efficient Entity.” “A seismic shift in the way state government operates and serves its citizens is at hand, provoked by a set of circumstances unique in recent history, including widespread recognition that the status quo isn't working and cannot be sustained financially. The recession has ravaged state resources, and a new Republican governor with hefty GOP majorities in the General Assembly is poised to seize the moment, determined to transform state government into a smaller, less-expensive and, he assures, more-efficient entity. ‘I really believe this is our chance,’ Gov. John Kasich said. ‘If we miss this opportunity, I'm not sure we'll have another try.’” (Joe Hallett, “Statehouse Lobbyists Seem To Get Kasich’s Message,” The Columbus Dispatch, 2/7/11)

  • Ohio Republicans Introduced Bill That Would Encourage Merit-Based Raises And Allow Non-Union Members To Refuse To Pay Dues. “The Ohio proposal, sponsored by Republican Sen. Shannon Jones, would abolish collective bargaining rights for state workers and restrict teachers, firefighters, police, university employees and local workers in their bargaining abilities. Unions would lose the ability to negotiate salary schedules and step increases in favor of merit-based raises. Unions would be barred from requiring non-members covered by their contracts to pay dues.” (Patrick Preston, “Kasich On Senate Bill 5: ‘I Am Very Optimistic,’”NBC4i, 2/21/11)

THE DEMOCRAT RESPONSE: “Thousands Of Demonstrators” Including Former-Democrat Governor Marched On The State Capitol To Protest The Bill. “In Ohio, where the state Senate is considering a similar law known as SB5 that would eliminate collective bargaining for many state workers, thousands of demonstrators, some carrying signs that read ‘Kill SB5’ or ‘Stop SB5’ packed the lawn outside the state Capitol. Among the protesters was former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat who lost the election last year to Republican John Kasich, who supports the measure.” (Jeff Mayers, “Democrats Flee Wisconsin To Protest Union Curbs,” Reuters, 2/17/11)

WISCONSIN

REPUBLICANS LEAD: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Has Offered A Bill That Would Save State Taxpayers $330 Million.  “Walker offered the bill to help shore up the state's finances in advance of a budget to be delivered Tuesday that is expected to include major cuts in areas like aid to local schools and governments.  He first wants the budget repair bill passed to help clear up a $137 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30 and ease solving a deficit of more than $3 billion over the next two years. The cuts to benefits would save taxpayers nearly $330 million through mid-2013.”  (Jason Stein, Patrick Marley, and Steve Schultze, “Walker Calls For Senate Dems To End Their Boycott And Vote,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel2/17/11)

  • “[The Plan] Would Also Require Government Workers, Who Currently Contribute Little Or Nothing To Their Pensions, To Contribute 5.8% Of Their Pay To Pensions, And Pay At Least 12.6% Of Health-Care Premiums, Up From An Average Of 6%.”  (Kris Maher And Douglas Belkin, “in Wisconsin Fight, Officials Search Capitol For Democrats,” The Wall Street Journal, 2/17/11)

THE DEMOCRAT RESPONSE: Senate Democrats Literally Fled The State To Avoid Being Forced To Do Their Jobs. “State Sens. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) Jon Erpenbach (D-Fitchburg) said Thursday all 14 Senate Democrats had left Wisconsin Thursday to avoid being forcibly returned to the Capitol to vote on Gov. Scott Walker's proposed elimination of public worker bargaining rights. … Wisconsin lawmakers could be forcibly returned to the Capitol by Wisconsin police or state troopers -- if they had stayed in Wisconsin, he said.” (Steve Schultze, “Senators Left Wisconsin To Avoid Forced Return To CApitol,” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s “All Politics” Blog, 2/17/11)

NEW JERSEY

REPUBLICANS LEAD: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Vetoed Democrat-Passed Budget Containing Tax Hikes And Eventually Won Passage Of His Budget That Included Major Cuts In Spending. “This year, when New Jersey Democrats proposed a tax surcharge on income above $1 million, the state faced a possible government shutdown if Christie did not relent. … He added, ‘so what happened? They sent me that tax increase, I vetoed it, immediately, within the first 30 seconds they handed it to me, I handed it right back to them. And then they passed my budget.’ After a months-long fight, Democrats in New Jersey reluctantly agreed in June to a $29.3 billion budget, along the lines of what Christie had proposed, that included $800 million in cuts to education and eliminated or reduced the funding of dozens of programs and agencies.” (Perry Bacon Jr., “N.J. Gov. Chris Christie Becoming A National Hero Of GOP,” The Washington Post, 10/30/10)

  • “The governor called the state legislature into an emergency session and pushed through a 2% cap in annual increases of property-taxes, which have risen 70% in the past decade in New Jersey. He halted popular projects, including a multibillion-dollar train tunnel to Manhattan.” (Monica Langley, “Governor Christie's Ultimate Test,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/22/10)
  • Christie Introduced Bill To Tie Teacher Pay To Performance And End The Awarding Of Tenure After Three Years. “On Sept. 28, nine months after taking office, Mr. Christie unveiled his plan to revamp schools. He pushed for linking teachers' raises and job security to ‘teacher effectiveness and student performance,’ instead of the current system of rewarding seniority and advanced training. He called for an end to New Jersey's practice of awarding tenure after only three years.” (Monica Langley, “Governor Christie's Ultimate Test,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/22/10)

THE DEMOCRAT RESPONSE: The NJ Teachers Union Aired Ads And Held 35,000 Person Rally Critical Of Christie, And One County Chapter President Sent Around Private Memo Praying For Christie’s Death. “Ms. Keshishian ordered up a series of counter-punches to the governor's charges. The NJEA shifted money from ‘Pride in Public Education’ spots to 30-second ads critical of Mr. Christie. … NJEA led its members and other community and labor groups in a rally, dubbed ‘Standing Up, Standing Together.’ About 35,000 members gathered at the state capitol in Trenton. … In April, Joe Coppola, president of the Bergen County Education Association, a county union chapter, emailed a memo to members with a closing prayer: ‘Dear Lord, this year you have taken away my favorite actor Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer Michael Jackson and my favorite salesman Billy Mays.’ He concluded: ‘I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor.’ The private memo became public.” (Monica Langley, “Governor Christie's Ultimate Test,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/22/10)


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