The Follies

The Follies

- in Fitzsimon File

A few more specifics about the budget

Republican Senate candidate Hood Richardson came up with some specific ideas this week for addressing the state's budget shortfall in an impromptu debate with his opponent, Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight.

The Washington Daily News reports that the two candidates both came to the newspaper's conference room to talk about the campaign. The paper's account of the discussion includes several ideas from Richardson about how the state could fill the state $3 billion budget hole next year without raising any new revenue.

He says the state could cut health benefits to people suffering from obesity, calling it a "self-imposed" condition. Richardson also said lawmakers could end More at Four, the state's nationally recognized program to help at risk kids.

Finally, he complained about undocumented students in school, presumably K-12, which he said is "a $9,000 hit" for every student. Then he went on to use the offensive and inaccurate term "anchor babies" and complain about "welfare" received by undocumented immigrants.

Richardson, who is a longtime Beaufort County Commissioner, must know that the federal courts have ruled that public schools must provide an education to undocumented students.

That leaves his budget suggestions as cutting off health benefits to people suffering from obesity and wiping out More at Four.

That's quite a catchy campaign slogan Richardson has there, "No more help for struggling kids or adults in poor health."

No need to talk about issues

One of the more bizarre takes on this year's legislative campaign comes from the Wilmington outpost of the Locke machine, where Bob Smith holds forth.

Smith was recently defending Republican Senate candidate Thom Goolsby who was attacked by his Democratic opponent Jim Leutze for offering no specific suggestions about how to balance next year's budget without raising new revenue.

It's hard to argue that Leutze doesn't have a reasonable point. Goolsby and other Republicans keep insisting they will balance the budget with cuts alone, but don't ever tell the voters how.

Smith says they don't need to, that "no legislative candidate can be specific about his future actions. We can only go on the character, principles and ideology of the candidate."

No candidate can be specific about his future actions? That must mean that Smith thinks all those no-new tax pledges right-wing candidates are signing are meaningless. And that the handful of specifics included in the Republicans agenda for the first 100 days of the General Assembly are misleading.

No specifics allowed. We don't need them.

Better cancel all the debates and tear up the candidate questionnaires unless they are only about ideology. We don't need to know what candidates will do if they are elected. Let's just ask them about the last book they read and get on with it.

The confident wealthy

Smith's not only defending Goolsby lack of specifics, he's also rushing to defend him against criticism that he's bankrolling his own campaign, spending $300,000 of his own money to get elected.

Smith says that means that Goolsby has self-confidence and is a risk-taker and points out that Leutze has a state pension to fall back on and "doesn't think enough of his prospects to invest in himself."

Consider that logic for a moment. You are not a confident candidate unless you invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in your own campaign. Only wealthy people can apparently be confident.

And what does Leutze's state pension have to do with anything? He had a long career in the UNC system as a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and then chancellor at UNC-Wilmington. He earned his pension. Does Smith believe people who receive state pensions should not be allowed to serve?

How about current state employees? Several Republicans and Democrats running for the General Assembly work for the state or receive state retirement benefits. Should they drop out of the race?

From the Fringe

This week's From the Fringe features Locker Roy Cordato, who was interviewed recently by the folks at the Bastiat Institute in their Faculty Spotlight Interview.

Bastiat's biography of Cordato points out that he is on the visiting faculty at N.C. State, where he teaches an economic course "under the auspices of a grant from the John William Pope Foundation."

Cordato describes his job at the Locke Foundation as trying to "keep the tyrants in North Carolina state government and on the city councils and county commissions across the state from stealing my money, property, and liberty and the money, property, and liberty of my fellow North Carolinians."

We are governed by tyrants apparently who are stealing our money. Somebody must have abolished our democracy when we weren't looking.

Otherwise we would be governed by people we elected who are making decisions on our behalf under the authority of our system of government. Clearly Cordato can't stand for that.

In case you are wondering about the Bastiat Institute, it's a Libertarianish group formed just last year. But it's not your father's Libertarianism.

One of the "Liberty Links" on the Bastiat website is to a group called the "Center for a Stateless Society," which says it's trying to "build awareness of the market anarchist alternative."

That's not an Onion headline. That's what it says.

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.
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