Thursday, November 03, 2011
Long Live The Pledge!
The Pledge. In New Hampshire, these two words are always spoken in capital letters. The Pledge. Not the Pledge of Allegiance, not the Norquist Pledge, not any of the other pledges Republicans take against: gay marriage, abortion, pornography, Sharia law, or promising to adhere to term limits, pledging to rewrite the tax code, and run our government like a business. Republicans take many, many pledges. In NH, The Pledge means the anti-tax pledge cooked up by the late Union Leader publisher William Loeb, and the late Governor Meldrim Thomson. When one takes The Pledge, one promises not to support an income or a sales tax in our state. All Republicans take The Pledge, and so do many Democrats.
Ironic, isn’t it? Here in the Live Free or Die State, not thinking for one’s self is prized above all else.
That’s why Republicans take so many pledges. The pledges eliminate the need for thought, paving the way for candidates like Rick Santorum and Martin Harty. All Republicans take The Pledge, and so do many Democrats. The timid Manchester Conservadems who control the NHDP support The Pledge. They insist that Democrats can’t win unless they take it. Democrat Maggie Hassan recently announced she was going to run for governor. Within minutes of the press conference, she took The Pledge. Within minutes of taking The Pledge, Republicans were calling her a “tax and spend liberal.” The beat goes on and on – and The Pledge shuts down all discussion of what might make sense, or what would be right for our state.
Not taking The Pledge is not the same thing as supporting an income or sales tax. A candidate who refused to take The Pledge would indicate the presence of a candidate who refuses to march forward in mindless lockstep with the dead.
We all see the result of pledge politics in NH every day: inadequate roads, failing bridges and dams, and a communications infrastructure that does not meet the needs of the top half of the state. Every time you open your property tax bill, you see the results of pledge politics. The proposed changes to snow plowing by the DOT were the direct result of pledge politics. The curious fee system we have in NH is a direct result of pledge politics. That The Pledge doesn’t work is never discussed. Mediscam (the stealing of Medicaid money to fund our state government) was also a direct result of pledge politics. The state is now being asked to pay back some $35 million in Mediscam funds.
A recent story in the Conway Daily Sun focused on the inter-library loan (ILL) system, which is currently being threatened by the Teabaglican legislature. The Institute of Museum and Library Services gives NH around a million dollars every year in federal funding. About a third of that goes to fund the vans used for ILL. In other words, it’s an inexpensive program that allows small libraries to greatly expand their reach. Readers can request books that the small local library doesn’t have, and borrow the book from another part of the state. This is especially helpful when it comes to research materials. Our small libraries have limited space and budgets. ILL levels the playing field for NH students and readers.
Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R: Odious) of the House Finance Committee wants to cut the funding for inter-library loan. It seems Rep. Vaillancourt got the book he ordered from the program “too fast,” and decried this “gold plated service.” Vaillancourt lives in Manchester, the largest city in the state. It’s a sure bet that if he lived in Pittsburg, he wouldn’t be making the same complaint. Vaillancourt is currently a Republican (though he has been a Democrat and a Libertarian in the past) and like all Republicans, he knows the best way to create more GOP voters is to prevent education.
Local Rep. Karen Umberger is also on the Finance Committee. In the Sun story, she is quoted as saying she was reserving judgment until reading a report on the matter. Translation: “Stop calling me!” We can certainly count on Rep. Umberger to think long and hard before marching in obedient lockstep with her party.
In other news, the NH unemployment rate has risen steadily every month since the O’Brien budget went into effect late in June. It was 4.9% in June. As of September, the rate is 5.4%. That laser-like focus on jobs that the GOP candidates promised has yet to materialize. Perhaps they meant a laser-like focus on job elimination? If that’s the case, they’re doing a fine job. One can only assume that eliminating marriage equality is the latest GOP plan for job creation, since that looms heavily on their agenda for 2012. The results for the cuts made to the tobacco tax are in, and show that the state is $3.5 million behind in projected tobacco revenue for the year. When the cuts were made, Speaker O’Brien was quoted as saying, "We strongly believe that reducing this tax will result in more revenue, more economic growth and more tax cuts." Believing doesn’t make it true. Of course it’s still cheaper for NH students to take up smoking than it is for them to go to college here.
Liquor and lottery funds are coming in below projection as well. A Teabaglican budget shortfall seems likely. At the same time, your property taxes have gone up! Please take a moment to thank the independent thinkers of our state government who are still taking the instructions given by a couple of long dead carpetbaggers. Long live The Pledge!
“Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, then they get elected and prove it.” P.J. O’Rourke
© sbruce 2011
Published as an op-ed in the November 4, 2011 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper
Posted by susanthe at 1:55 PM