The Follies

The Follies

- in Fitzsimon File

The GOP's long rhetorical walk on a short pier

Republicans appear to have decided on which state project to ridicule in their tired rhetorical efforts to portray Democratic legislative leaders as tax-and-spend liberals who want to raise your taxes while refusing to cut waste and end pork barrel spending.

The winner is the $25 million pier under construction in Nags Head on the Outer Banks, the home of Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight.

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger said at a news conference two weeks ago that Democrats should stop funding for things like the new pier in Nags Head before considering any tax increase.

Republican lobbyist and political operative Carter Wrenn says that if Democrats really meant to make, hard tough cuts instead of raising taxes, "the pier would be history."

Think tankers on the right have taken to peppering their rants against the budget with snide references to the pier.

Here's the problem for Republicans. Senator Berger voted for the bill that authorized the funding for construction of the pier, on April 14th.   It's House Bill 628 if you are keeping score at home.

The vote was 49-0. All the Republicans in the Senate voted for it, expect one who was absent that day. 

House Minority Leader Paul Stam didn't vote on the bill on the House floor for some reason, but every other Republican House member present that day did. Republican Danny McComas was one of the primary sponsors of the legislation to authorize the money to build the pier.  Sounds like virtually all state lawmakers thought the pier was a good investment.

The next time Berger complains about it, somebody needs to ask him why he supported it just two months ago.

The pier is this year's Teapot museum, a project partially funded by the General Assembly a few years ago in Sparta. The museum was never built because the rest of the funding never came through.

The museum lives on though, still used an example of wasteful government spending, primarily by Republicans and the think tanks aligned with them. Generally left out of their discussion is the fact that Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and Senator Richard Burr, both Republicans, pursued federal funding for the museum.

Report From the Fringe

It is our responsibility in Friday Follies to keep an eye on the folks on right-wing-avenue and report some of their more head-scratching comments to readers in Report from the Fringe. This week we have some help, courtesy of Kevin Carey, policy director of Education Sector, a Washington think tank.

Carey takes on fringe favorite George Leef from the Pope Center to Dismantle Higher Education in a column in The Chronicle of Review, a magazine published by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Carey responds to Leef's criticism of an earlier column in which Carey was critical of colleges with low graduation rates. Leef was particularly upset that Carey described the problem with one college as the school failing to graduate 92 percent of its students.

Leef says it is the students' responsibility to do what's necessary to graduate, not the schools. Carey rightly concludes that Leef must believe that a student's experience in college depends only what the student makes of it.

But as Carey points out, Leef argued just the opposite in the National Review last year when he complained of students being indoctrinated with a "misleading socialistic version of capitalism and business."

Carey sums up Leef's self-contradiction perfectly.

In other words, colleges have so little influence over the academic lives of their students that a 92 percent drop out rate is perfectly acceptable because degree completion is totally a function of whether students have the gumption and will to succeed. Yet colleges have so much influence over the academic lives of their students that the Marxist professoriate may very well "wreck" our entire society by indoctrinating students who are powerless to resist their professors' devious collectivist spell.

Nice to have some help keeping up with the Leefs in our midst.

The state the way the Lockers want it

Speaking of the Right, the Lockers keep telling us that not only should lawmakers balance the state budget without raising any new revenue, but they have a plan that shows how to do it and still take care of the state's "immediate and long term concerns."

The plan is called "The Can-Do Budget, the impossible takes a little longer." The plan would abolish Smart Start, slash funding for dropout prevention, abolish the N.C Housing Trust Fund, sharply reduce funding for college scholarships, and close university research centers that focus on heart disease, nutrition, developmental disorders and child development.

The budget would increase tuition at UNC enough to raise $300 million over two years and significantly raise it at all community colleges too. It would end dental care for seniors and people with disabilities, and cut off special services to people with traumatic brain injuries, many of whom are soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan.

It would slash funding for the Rape Victim Assistance Program and law enforcement agencies, including the State Bureau of Investigation.  Those are apparently are not "immediate or long term concerns."

There's plenty more, but you get the picture of the damage the Lockers budget would do to the services that are the state's safety net and to the people who rely on them.

Better apparently in the Lockean world view to let the poor and most vulnerable suffer instead of asking the wealthy and most comfortable pay slightly higher taxes.

It's not a Can-Do budget. It's a Won't-Do budget that would set the state back 20 years. 

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.
chris@ncpolicywatch.com
919-861-2066