A little Kool-Aid to quench the thirst?
Can-kicking in Carson City and ass-kicking in Washington, D.C., offer up a smorgasbord for observers’ political taste buds.
So let’s dig in, first tackling the main course:
Democrats and Republicans in Carson City, including Gov. Jim Gibbons, made nice in the 26th special legislative session while kicking a can of worms down the road toward a fishing hole filled with piranhas.
The fishing hole in this analogy is a stand-in for the 2011-12 state budget, the can of worms for swooning revenues and the piranhas for rampant anti-tax sentiment among voters and business interests.
Lawmakers and the governor agreed on an $870 million fix that won’t. A mish-mash of fees, cuts and sleights-of-hand, the special session work product made the budget balance on paper but leaves officials pinned under a massive paperweight.
Regarding taxes and fees, representatives for the hardest and softest assets stepped up while others resembled a herd of deer in headlights. The hard asset mining industry helped (though it remains under-taxed); the softer brothel industry tried in hopes of further legitimizing itself and spreading sex service work’s footprint.
Virtually everyone else—including the once go-go, now going-going gaming industry—tried AWOL on for size regarding revenue-raising. Poor-mouth platitudes prevailed.
Sen. Randolph Townsend of Reno put the state’s plight in context as he exhorted business-related lobbyists to step up to the table next year, code for helping solve Nevada government’s revenue receipts implosion.
“No is not a plan. Taxing the world is not a plan,” he admonished lobbyists. “This is a challenge of gigantic proportions.”
Easy for him to say, mutter some, noting he is term-limited and likely out of the mix for higher office because Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki decided against a bid to challenge Sen. Harry Reid. Krolicki’s second term preference left the GOP’s Townsend free to face the music when that musical chair disappeared, or so the thinking goes.
Now let’s dig into dessert:
Down by the Potomac, Senate Majority Leader Reid and his congressional Democrats face their own music in a game of musical chairs that should find some standing outside their comfort zone and in voters’ cross-hairs. The issue is the health care policy revamp (little reform here).
A few weeks ago, I wrote that reconciliation would meld Senate and House versions, prompting someone to challenge me on terminology. But I didn’t write budget reconciliation. Reconciliation is a word with meaning (root: reconcile) before politicians borrowed it. Bottom line: bill language must mesh.
New York Times columnist David Brooks, when asked about reconciliation, replied with a question: “In the moral sense or the legislative sense?”
Budget reconciliation now may help the Democrats’ plan clear the Senate by simple majority, making Republicans cry foul and bemoan overreach. The GOP feels it is in a win-win political position. After Democrats’ ass-kissing couldn’t budge them, they now keep their strategic ass-kicking contest alive.
If the bill passes, they get an ass-kicking in government but voice ass-kicking rhetoric in their run-up to November’s election by trashing the bill, promising repeal and decrying joblessness. If it fails, the GOP Elephants trumpet victory and hope to kick the Jackass Democrats by saying those Dems dithered while unemployment spiked.
Whatever happens, Dems are spooked. They’ll likely pass the bill, hoping that will minimize losses. Most revamp benefits won’t kick in soon, however, and longer term the plan won’t bend the health care cost curve downward.
Some smorgasbord—a broke state for the main course, a broken health care mess ‘o pottage for dessert. After-smorgasbord drink, anyone?