The Answer Is No AnswerIt speaks little of Governor Phil Bredesen's ability to prioritize when we learn that he wants to borrow $500 million for "stimulus" projects while cutting services such as mental health and assistance for people with severe disabilities in the name of fiscal responsibility. What the Governor's plan does tell us is that he has no intention of behaving in a financially responsible way, because he is willing to borrow money for certain projects while cutting other services. Bredesen wants our General Assembly to sign off on a plan that abuses the good faith and credit of this State in a manner similar to federal and personal fiscal behaviors that got the country into this Depression to begin with:
"It's kind of like using the credit card when you're in tight financial circumstances," said Rep. Jason Mumpower, the House Republican leader. "I don't think the taxpayers of this state want us running up expenses on their credit card at a time like this."
Mumpower is correct, of course. If the Governor's budget is passed as it stands, it would be a huge disservice to the people of this State who have to tighten their belts during this time of economic instability. The people are being forced to live within their means in a manner not seen since the 1930's, while the Governor and his political allies want to pass a budget which allows the State to live beyond its means in a way not seen since the end of the War Between the States.
House Democrats are whining about the cuts, but it appears that they are merely looking for a way to blame Republicans for a budget mess which they helped to create, since the Democrats were the party of control in this State for nearly a century and a half. As Democrats and liberals are wonton to do, they apparently are doing plenty of whining, but have yet to come up with a real plan. Rep. Stacey Campfield says Republicans are listening for a real alternative from the party opposite:
We are ready to hear the Democrat plan to substitute the cuts from mental health and other areas and replace it with cuts from somewhere new. So far it has been a lot of "we don't like this or that" cries but no plan of action to fix it.
Democrats in Nashville aren't good at coming up with new ideas and alternate plans because up until this point in history, they've never had to. Democrats have always been the party of power (the Legislature, not the Governor, runs the State in Tennessee in a very constitutional sense), and were the authority for so long that they were never collectively answerable to anyone. Now the Democrats are in opposition for the first time in the Legislature, so the GOP awaits their answer to a budget from a Governor of their own party that they admit is utterly terrible.
The Democrats' answer is to complain and not give an answer.
Meanwhile, Campfield and other House Republicans are saying that in order to correct the Bredesen budget, the marathon legislative session will keep going like the Energizer Bunny.
It is doubtful we will get out this week. Next week isn't looking much better.
The Governor and his staff lie to legislators and attempt to impose tax increases on the sly that they first insisted were not in the bill, and this man has the unmitigated gall to insist that the General Assembly pass his budget the way that he wants it.
Governor Bredesen should have been a celebrity guest on Make Me Laugh.