Oregon Hostage Taking- The Welfare State

Who’s Holding Whom Hostage?

| Feb 25, 2012 | 0 comments

GOVERNOR AND FELLOW DEMOCRATS STONEWALL REPUBLICANS’ JOBS INITIATIVE –

The Oregonian editorial board continues to pound away at Republican legislators and particularly House Co-Speaker Bruce Hanna.  On Wednesday of this week the editorial board railed against Republican failure to rush through education and health care reforms pushed by the Governor.  Today the editorial board expresses astonishment and outrage that Republicans are demanding action on their jobs package in return for action on the Governor’s health care and education initiatives. “Even in politics, friends don’t take friends hostage,” they write.

oregon governor john kitzhaber 2012

Photo: Associated Press

OK.  Fair enough.  But who is holding whom hostage?  On Thursday the Governor “invited” business leaders to a press conference at which he plead for quick action by the legislature on health care and education.  Are those folks going to stiff the Governor?  Of course not.  They understand that they have to get along with the guy who happens to hold the office.  But let’s hope those who agreed to serve as props for the Governor’s show and tell have also picked up the phone and let the Governor know privately that there needs to be action on the jobs package as well.

The Oregonian describes GOP leaders as having “crashed Kitzhaber’s news conference.”  So were not all business leaders invited?   Bruce Hanna, Kevin Cameron and Tim Freeman are all successful businessmen and business leaders.  Dennis Richardson is a successful lawyer who represents businesses.  And these are business people who not only show up when the Governor calls a news conference or when they are looking for something from government, but also impose significant costs on their businesses by volunteering to serve in the Oregon Legislature.  Of course, they are all from outside the Portland-Salem-Eugene power center, so perhaps that explains why they weren’t invited.

And the fact that these individuals and most other Republicans represent rural and small town Oregon gets to the heart of the apparent stalemate in Salem.  The Oregonian expresses sympathy with Republican job initiatives, but says “it’s wrong and dangerous to pretend that this kind of legislation is of equal importance to creating a new accountability system for schools, or reforming an early childhood education system that every year leaves an estimated 18,000 Oregon kids unprepared to learn when they show up to kindergarten.”

Maybe it’s wrong if you live in the Valley and can’t see past the Cascades or the Coast Range.  But if you live in eastern or central or southern or coastal Oregon, a dozen jobs here and a hundred jobs there make an enormous difference to the future prospects of your community.  Although many urban Oregonians have persuaded themselves that rural Oregon can survive on tourism and the “new green economy,” the reality is that we live in a resource rich state and if we refuse to responsibly develop and use those resources we condemn many Oregon communities and Oregonians to continuing economic decline.

The effects of that decline are not confined to rural Oregon.  They slowly, but steadily, trickle over the mountains and into Salem.  Did anyone notice that the state economist’s revenue projections are consistently wrong on the high side?  That’s a sad commentary on the sorry condition of the economy of the entire state.

Rather than condemn Republicans for holding hostage the Governor’s health care and education reforms, The Oregonian might more reasonably have asked why the Governor and his fellow Democrats are holding the Republican jobs initiatives hostage.  Of course health care costs and education are important to the future of business in this state.  But so too are jobs in the near term which will result from making greater use of the resources of the state.  Oregon could be a national model for responsible development of state controlled resources – if only the Governor and Democrats were willing.

If the jobs package is of such limited importance relative to the health care and education reforms, why don’t Democrats happily accept them.  According to The Oregonian they would be getting a lot in return for giving up very little.  Though one has to wonder what it is they think they would be giving up by encouraging a little job growth.

So who’s holding whom hostage?

@COPYRIGHT Northwest Free Press 2012. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

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