A Shameful Performance
As my old man would say, “we’ve been beaten like a rented mule.” To mix metaphors we can put all the l’Oreal we want to on this porker but it’s not going to change its basic nature.
Unfortunately, our Republican caucus converted what could have been a narrow win into an utter rout. We could have defeated the slots proposal, a proposal that could have been enacted in the regular session without any impact whatsoever on the budget, and at least retained some bargaining power for actual, honest to gosh cuts in state spending. Now we have a governor coming off a big win and we have no leverage whatsoever.
Why various members of the General Assembly voted the way they did is a mystery today though I suspect when the baksheesh begins to flow in the regular session that we will get a better idea of the contours of the deal making. My colleague Michael Swartz offers the best explanation for some of this behavior. It is quite simply a manifestation of the Stockholm Syndrome.
Some undoubtedly decided to cut the best deal they could for themselves or a particular constituency while flipping the bird at the state in general.
We know the Democrats who voted this way are not accountable and there is no evidence that Republican voters are angry enough to hurt any incumbents in 2010.
Make no mistake about it. This session did nothing to solve the “structural deficit.” That deficit was, are remains, caused by out of control spending. By a congenital inability of the General Assembly to say no to any program, no matter how ineffective or addlepated. In fact, this session added to the structural deficit by over $1 billion in new entitlements and it has set the stage of additional rounds of tax increases. It is equally certain that Governor O’Malley emerged from this session infinitely stronger, that Mike2 demonstrated they can make their respective house of the General Assembly jump through hoops, and that the opposition has discredited itself to its base and its opponents.
It is going to be a long, long four or eight or however many years.