Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Dry Hole?
Silly Season

In Formula 1 racing, baseball and other sports the time just before the new season starts is sometimes referred to as silly season. This is the time that deals are made, rumors are started, outright fabrications are floated to cause disinformation and people are hired or fired.

In the sport of US politics, the silly season is upon us. The deals are being cut, territory bought and sold, wannabes are pushing shoving elbowing, trying to get in or trying to get out or being ground into hash as the pre-election cycle of silliness wobbles on. Rumors, fabrications, hatchet jobs and disinformation campaigns abound. Personnel alignments, political favors and back-room alliances are the work of the day as primary candidates scrabble for votes to keep themselves in the race for the gold ring, the US Presidency.

Out of all this finagling, the American people learn who the candidates are, what they claim to stand for (as opposed to what they will really do if elected) and whether they can stand the grueling pace and hardball antics of silly season without blowing their tops.

This year’s event seems about over at this point. The parade will go on until the real season opener, the Republican and Democrat conventions, convene but the die appears to be cast at this point. The only question to be asked is whether Obama and Clinton, or Clinton and Obama will face McCain in the November national election. After the dust settles and the last bamboo shoot has been driven under the electorates’ fingernail we will discover what those two have realized since day one. Whichever one comes out on top, they have no chance against McCain in November unless they team up with each other and go for the special interest/special population vote as partners.

By harnessing the available minority vote and the sex-based vote the Clinbama/Obamton duad has a chance to add that to the regular vote total of voters buying in to the Democrat rhetoric. The result is an almost certain mathematical win. Not all minority voters or sex based voters will cast a ballot for the O/C duo but enough will vote that way to push a fairly tight race over into their favor. McCain and those buying into the Republican rhetoric will be numerically outgunned and will likely go down to ignominious defeat if the C/O partnership forms.

So don’t be fooled by the cat fighting, name calling and arm twisting you see now. Obama and Clinton will be fast friends and will almost surely team up as kissin’ cousins, lifelong pals and natural allies as they try to get their mitts on 4 (or for them, hopefully 8) years of wielding the ultimate power and granting the ultimate favors. No amount is too much to spend; no effort is too great to get to that penultimate goal of the political animal, the White House. The Democrat convention is when you will see these two bitter ‘rivals’ kiss and make up. Sidebar: If they win will they agree to “flip” positions four years from now?
* * * *
How much in the well?
According to local news sources our Governor is in the process of making a contingency plan should the Legislature not pass a budget. He and his advisors will try to work out the math and figure out how to spend via a continuing resolution as we have done in all but 3 of the last 10 years.

He has talked of consolidating government agencies to make them more cost effective, he has proposed payless government holidays as a solution but the time for that has probably passed with nearly half of the fiscal year now gone. He has raised the specter of Austerity Fridays again, this time every week instead of every other week. He has mentioned cutting some agencies, like CUC, independently and at other times he has talked about across the board cuts. He has pointed out that mass lay offs may become necessary but has so far staved them off. I’m sure there are some other possibilities he and his team have not exposed to the light of day yet. Let’s hope so.

One thing is almost certain. He will have to come up with a plan to deal with a looming problem. What do we do when the money runs out about August? We don’t print our own money so just inflating the money supply while deflating the worth of the currency as autonomous countries do is not an option. As a ‘partner’ country we can only borrow and let our kids figure out how to pay for it (so called deficit spending), or we can spend only what we have. It appears that what we have will just run out about the end of July or the beginning of August at current rates of expenditure. I am wondering what the plan will be then?

It may now be too late to stretch the available dollars over the remaining time. The original estimate of $160 million in revenues or so appears to have been a bit high considering additional business closures and declining tax revenue. The options will become much narrower once the well has run dry. I think that is what the Governor and his staff were trying to relate in the memo message of last Friday to various Department and Division heads as reported over the weekend. The options become, shut down overall operations until the new fiscal year starts in October or try to shuffle remaining funds into a few really vital services. Either way they are holding each agency individually accountable, so goes the message from the Administration.

Just like families, governments can only expend what they take in over the long haul. So far, over the years our government has managed to run the deficit to just over 1 full years income*. This administration has not added to it, so far. Lets hope they keep it that way.

*(This figure does not include ‘unfunded liabilities’ - mostly from the retirement fund – which increases that total deficit owing to the equivalent of many years of total income). See Bill Stewart’s excellent series of articles recapping and recounting the woes of the retirement fund over the years in excruciating detail.

Quotes of the week: There are advantages to being elected President. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret. Ronald Reagan, 40th US President (1911 – 2004)

I don’t care who does the electing as long as I get to do the nominating. Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall Democrat (1823 – 1878)
(Yes, you probably noticed that I used a picture of a well instead of a picture of Mrs. Clinton to illustrate the dry hole title concept -it's because I am striving for political correctness).

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