Friday, March 04, 2011

The Unitary Governor

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was clearly taking notes during the last Bush presidency, gleaning a very important lesson: it's good to be king. How else does one explain his actions in the first months of his term?

He pushed $117 million in business tax cuts through the GOP-run statehouse, aggravating the state's deficit in hopes of creating jobs. Then he got the Legislature to agree to a measure requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes in the future, leaving fewer options to close the shortfall.

This week, he proposed a two-year budget to close the projected $3.6-billion deficit. It included big cuts in state aid to local governments — and would bar those cities and counties from raising property taxes to avoid having to make their own reductions.

Most notably, Walker used a small gap in the current fiscal year to fast-track a bill that would give his administration unprecedented powers — not only to weaken public sector unions, but to appoint dozens of powerful new bureaucrats and to determine who gets to stay in the state's Medicaid program. ...

"What you've got is a governor who's come in with a great appetite for achieving his ends," said Norman J. Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "This is far more about power than it is about money."
[Emphasis added]

How astute of the AEI. It's hard to disagree with that analysis, even given its source. Of course, it didn't take a session examining cow entrails to reach the right conclusion. Governor Walker has been pretty clear in his intentions:

The most consequential provision would allow Walker's administration to determine eligibility for the state's Medicaid program, BadgerCare. Previously, any changes would have to go through the Legislature. Under the bill, the governor has to consult only with the Senate's budget committee. [Emphasis added]

Sound familiar? That eight years under George W. Bush had Congress tied in knots, primarily because Congress quite cheerfully ceded important powers to the executive, just as the Republican-led state legislature is doing in Wisconsin.

Quick study, that Scott Walker.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

Power corrupts.

10:23 AM  

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