Extraordinary Events, Same Old Response

Commentary by Ron Miller

Commentary by Ron Miller By any measure, yesterday was an extraordinary day in American politics

One state that has been historically labeled a "blue" state, but is in fact mostly independent, elected a Republican to take the Senate seat occupied for decades by the late Senator Ted Kennedy.

On the other hand, another state that is decidedly "blue," and has been under Democratic control for almost 150 years, resorted to the same old tricks when confronted with an opportunity to be bold, proving that its leaders are out of fresh ideas and lack the energy and will to tackle the long-term challenges to the state's fiscal health.

Scott Brown's victory over Martha Coakley in yesterday's special election in Massachusetts was described in a Democratic memo as "one of the worst debacles in American political history." The outcome sent shock waves through the political landscape, and the Democrats can't decide whether to assign blame, go forward in defiance of the outcome, or just stand in place while the dust settles. There was evidence of all three responses on display yesterday.

The Coakley camp and senior Democratic Party officials exchanged harsh memos blaming each other for the outcome even before the polls had closed. Democrats at the national level want to limit the damage by declaring Coakley an overconfident and incompetent candidate.

That narrative is, in some respects, similar to what came out of the White House after Democrat Creigh Deeds was defeated by Republican Bob McDonnell in Virginia's race for governor.

In both races, President Obama put his prestige on the line to encourage people to come out and support these candidates, and in both cases, his appeals were not nearly enough. Better to blame the candidates than have these losses be declared a referendum on Obama and his leftist political agenda.

Brown promised the voters of Massachusetts that he would be the vote in the Senate that blocked the Democrats' health bill, but Obama and his surrogates on Capitol Hill, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Harry Reid, were defiant in their expressed intent to press on with this deeply unpopular legislation. Obama Administration officials said a Brown victory would simply force them to fight harder, regardless of the consequences.

How unpopular is the health bill? A recent poll taken by Democracy Corps, a left-leaning public opinion firm led by none other than Democratic strategist and street fighter James Carville, revealed that less than a third of likely voters are "warm" toward the health bill.

Therefore, some Democrats would be forgiven if they didn't share the President's zeal for self-immolation. They've witnessed a tide that washed over Virginia, New Jersey, and now Massachusetts, and they are more discerning and less stubborn than their leaders.

It will be interesting to see how Democrats in "unsafe" districts respond to yesterday's outcome. More retirements may be in the offing, and others may suddenly develop a case of prudence when it comes to the health bill or any other ambitious liberal initiative planned for this election year. These results may put immigration reform and cap and trade legislation on the back burner for now.

These events offer a teachable moment for the one-party monopoly in Annapolis - if they weren't so incorrigible to begin with.

With a $2.9 billion budget deficit staring them in the face, and the state's day-to-day expenses expected to outpace revenues by $2 billion a year until 2015, the Democrats blinked. Just as they've done for every year of Governor Martin O'Malley's term, they used fund transfers and accounting gimmicks to balance the budget for this year only.

Nothing was done about the services funded by federal stimulus money, which runs out while the services remain. Nothing was done about spending, which has gone up every year of the O'Malley reign. Education and health care costs are going to exceed the state's ability to pay for them, and then what?

And while nothing was done to raise taxes, the prevailing opinion in Annapolis and around the state is that they're just waiting until after the election to spring "revenue enhancements" on the Maryland taxpayer.

As we add even more to the state's already significant tax burden relative to other states in the region, or the nation for that matter, businesses will refuse to hire, close or leave the state. Just as with the record $1.5 billion tax increase levied on us in 2007, revenues will decrease rather than increase.

Wall Street is wondering what the state intends to do for the long term, and the state's AAA bond rating could be at risk. In response, Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller said, "Martin O'Malley wasn't elected to decimate the positive things government can do for people."

Well, he wasn't elected to have the government do people in, either, and his fiscal policies threaten the livelihoods of Marylanders, and even the viability of the programs so precious to the Democrats and their special interest friends.

Government spending doesn't create jobs that feed, clothe, and shelter families. Without good jobs, there is no tax revenue to fund the programs in which the Democrats are so proud.

Unless we admit we have a problem that requires a long-term solution, and then get serious about finding and implementing one, we will become the next California.

We've talked about what we should do; take a clean sheet and start over, asking the question, "This is a worthy cause, but should government be paying for it?" Transform the tax code to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, and keep more money in people's pockets, trusting them to stimulate the economy through spending, saving, investing, paring down debt, or starting new businesses. Reform the budget process to demand clearly stated and attainable public objectives, define the measures of success, and regularly monitor performance and outcomes. Terminate programs that do not work. Maintain transparency and accountability throughout the process.

In other words, do what any good businessman would do to remain profitable and satisfy the shareholders, in this case the voters of Maryland. Otherwise, Election Day this November could turn out to be another extraordinary day.

Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a military veteran, conservative writer and activist, former and current candidate for the District 27 Maryland Senate seat, communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party, and executive director of Regular Folks United, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  Ron is a regular contributor to RegularFolksUnited.com, American Thinker, and RedCounty.com. You can also follow Ron on his website TeamRonMiller.com, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

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