Stories from across the country underline the choice facing any serious leader right now –to go directly to the big problems and tackle them with honesty, candor, and persistence, or try and hide. The old guard of both parties doesn’t like the direct approach, but voters do, and those elected officials who take the point are winning long lasting approval and loyalty from voters.
Legislators in Florida –including members of the GOP– are bristling at Governor Scott’s aggressive approach to many issues. But in the Sunshine state and all across the country these collisions between the branches are all for the good. Better high profile disputes than secret deals to cover deep problems.
In Florida Scott wants to cut fast and deep. Good. He needs to keep pushing and pushing, and the state house GOP needs to get behind him.
In California, five rogue Republicans seem on the verge of selling out voters and allowing Governor Brown to try for massive tax extensions. These five are getting pummeled by voters and anti-tax activists from across state and increasingly the country, and hopefully the Tea Partiers in their district will turn out in force at the next public meeting they hold and remind them of the new mood in the country demanding austerity not profligacy. If the five fold and let the governor try to pummel the state into higher taxes, they will be through in state politics, as ruined as Abel Maldanado after he sold out the GOP caucus in similar circumstances two years ago. Arnold made Maldanado the Lieutenant Governor for about a week in exchange for a ruinous pro-tax hike vote, which got Maldanado the GOP’s nomination for the job when elections rolled around last fall, but nothing could remove the aroma from Maldanado. Maldanado was crushed in an election campaign in which no one felt like doing a thing for the sell-out. Brown may persuade other Republicans to jump off a political cliff with promises of jobs on lucrative state boards and commissions, but political infamy may hold them back. Voters don’t forget sell-outs. Brown’s doing what his union constituencies sent him to do -try and raise taxes. But the GOP voters didn’t send their electeds to work with Brown to further bankrupt the state and drive businesses away.
The high profile struggles on both coasts have been obscured by the big debates in Wisconsin and Florida. The Wisconsin Democrats have again fallen on their faces in front of the public by demanding an absurd “summit on the border” –the sort of stunt cooked up by a 22 year old recent college grad “activist” and sold to a tired and disorganized bunch of third rate pols who have painted themselves into a corner and towards whom bipartisan contempt grows daily. What a combination of cowardice and incompetence. Even their union bosses must be laughing at their collective absurdity.
Not everyone is as lucky in their political opponents as Scott Walker has been, but Walker is well advised to stay put in Madison repeating the mantra that the people’s representatives should stop with the Brave Brave Sir Robin* act and return to their desks.
In Ohio, Governor John Kasich delivers his first “state of the state” speech today, and hopefully he will use it to continue the optimistic note about the Buckeye State’s future while pressing for quick action on S.B. 5 in the Assembly and additional reforms of the tax and education codes. Like Walker in Wisconsin, Kasich knows he cannot waste his supermajorities and that time is of the essence when mandates are fresh and large.
The new House GOP leadership should be watching Scott, Walker and Kasich –as well as the folding chair Republicans in California– and coming to the conclusion that now is the time for the showdown on spending. They need the full $60 billion in cuts as well as the big four changes –complete defunding of Planned Parenthood and CPB and bans on regulations flowing out of HHS on Obamacare and from EPA on carbon. Everyone knows these are the big issues in round one, and that round one will determine rounds two –the debt limit– and round three, the FY 2012 budget.
Scott, Kasich and Walker are all leading from the front, available to all media at all times, and not hiding their agendas or their plans. The round-heeled Republicans in California are meeting in secret and hiding from the press. The House GOP needs to pick a model and go with it. Answering YouTube softballs is not a media strategy. Standing firmly by the message and with the people who sent you is. Hopefully the freshmen will deliver that message at this week’s caucuses.
*Video of the Brave Brave Sir Robin: