Mike Klein Online

GOP Power Play, Obamacare, Space Taxis and Newt!

Friday morning’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution headline that screamed “Governor seeks a shake-up” was counter-punched by the next morning’s headline “Critics pound Perdue plan.”  The November headline should say “Voters KO GOP Power Grab Plan.”  This was a bad idea from the start.  And if it’s such a good idea now, why didn’t we hear about this until Sonny Perdue’s eighth year in office?

The basic plan goes like this: Perdue proposed that starting after 2014 elections the governor would appoint four currently elected officials: commissioners at labor, education and insurance, along with state superintendent of education.  This will ostensibly make for better, more efficient government and ensure that really good people hold those jobs.

One of the Governor’s Senate leaders said, “In the election process it’s not always the most qualified person who wins the election.”   The governor’s bill already has key GOP leaders signed up to push it through the state Senate and House where the GOP controls the outcome.  Voters would need to approve or kill the proposal next November.

Here’s a hunch:  Governor Perdue is using his final legislative session to provide cover for Republican leaders-in-waiting who believe they will continue to run things under the Gold Dome while Democrats watch from the minority.  So, why not remove the aggravation caused when voters actually determine who they want in several key posts?

Here’s another hunch:  This is about money.  Republicans are looking at federal funds inside two of those departments – Education and Labor – and they are thinking, we need to have our thumbs on those funds.

According to Governor’s Office documents, the state Department of Education will receive $2.775 billion in federal funds and Labor will receive $345 million during the budget year that begins in July.  Smaller amounts are expected at Agriculture, $6.8 million, and Insurance, slightly under $1 million.  Patronage is the real prize at Agriculture and Insurance.

Democrats currently hold two of the four elected offices – with 12-year incumbent Michael Thurmond at Labor and retiring 40-year incumbent Tommy Irvin at Agriculture – while the GOP holds the other two – with eight-year incumbent Kathy Cox at Education and GOP gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine at Insurance.  Thurmond has not announced his November 2010 plans; a lot of folks are interested in that decision!

Republicans in Georgia should be careful.  They have been peeling some pretty good cards off the deck lately, but voter disenchantment today is with all politicians, not any single group.   Some estimates are that 50 percent of voters call themselves independents.  Loyalty is a fickle idea, not worth the price of salt.

It would be ironic if the measure were to be enacted, only to have Roy Barnes making those appointments at the start of his third administration, or perhaps Thurmond making them during his first administration when January 2015 rolls around.

What Will Barack Obama Say Next?

You could hardly blame President Barack Obama’s followers if they begin to wonder what he’ll say next about health care (or, really, anything).  During his State of the Union address Obama cheered on his supporters about health care with “Let’s get it done!  Let’s get it done!”

Then this past Thursday evening the president told a Democratic National Committee reception, “If Congress decides we’re not going to do it, even after all the facts are laid out, all the options are clear, then the American people can make a judgment as to whether this Congress has done the right thing for them.”  In other remarks it seemed like Obama still wants to fight.

But which is it, Mr. President?  “Let’s get it done!”  Or, maybe it won’t happen at all?

Obama fails to understand he is the primary reason health care reform stalled and may be dead.  His naive insistence that the process be complete before last August put health care onto an unrealistic calendar.  Then he failed to understand what it meant when angry Americans went into the streets to protest the overhaul.  That produced yet another artificial White House deadline to get something done before the year-end holiday.  Final card:  Sen. Scott Brown.

White House Attacks Moon Mission

Over the past week you’ve perhaps heard the Obama administration plans to completely defund the Constellation return-to-the-moon project.  Also dead: the Ares rocket and the Orion space exploration vehicle that would replace the shuttle program that flies its final mission this year.  Fortunately, Obama still likes the International Space Station and plans to continue funding.  This is being treated as a budget decision. Orlando Sentinel readers learned early details before Obama’s State of the Union address; other media caught on days later.

NASA and the U.S. scientific community have invested $9 billion and several years in Constellation, which has been criticized for cost overruns. The heavy lift capacity of the Ares rocket systems would return men to the moon, where equipment would be tested and evaluated for eventual missions to Mars.  To be fair, Obama would increase other NASA funding.  NASA  seems resigned to this fate and Democrats in Congress have the votes to go with Obama on this one.

The White House also believes some unknown group of private rocket manufacturers will emerge to plug the gap with some kind of fleet of commercial space taxis.  You don’t do something this drastic and propose to reverse decades of U.S. space policy without a national dialogue, especially when you are just months away from grounding NASA’s shuttles.

Here’s the really short-sighted part:  Grounding the aging shuttles and then eliminating the Ares rocket and Orion space exploration vehicle will leave Russia with the only heavy lift capacity to service the International Space Station for at least the next decade.  John F. Kennedy would most likely tell us that’s just wrong.

Newt Gingrich Luncheon Expected

Look for the Atlanta Press Club to announce a luncheon with Newt Gingrich.  The most likely date is Wednesday, February 24, at The Commerce Club.  Last month the Press Club and Commerce Club combined to host four-star U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, an event that drew some 600 to the Hotel Intercontinental in Buckhead.  The APC and Commerce Club are working on more high profile speakers for this spring, international-level folks with really big names.

Have a Nice Week!

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February 7, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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