Tuesday, October 27, 2009

By shamelessly pretending that in is out and up is down, [the current Republican leadership] have spun themselves into Wonderland.


Texas a fiscal wonderland? Now that's pure fantasy

mad toller


Jim Dunnam, Texas House of Representatives
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2009

Up is down. Left is right. Black is white.

It applies to Alice once she fell down that hole and walked through the looking glass.

It applies equally to our Republican leadership in Texas.

Watching Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst accept and spend President Barack Obama's stimulus money like drunken sailors then attempt to hide/rationalize/deny/avoid that fact, is getting more and more surreal and humorous — and more and more sad.

First, Perry slammed the stimulus and all its works in the Washington Times last February. However, he neglected to state that he had written a letter to Obama asking for the money just a day after Obama signed the bill. The ink wasn't even dry, and Perry had his hand out.

(Read the letter Perry wrote Obama on Perry's Web site: http://www.rickperry.org/perry-letter-to-obama.)

Next Perry told The Wall Street Journal that Texas wanted nothing to do with Washington and said our balanced budget is proof we can do it without outside help. He omitted the awkward fact that the stimulus money Perry got from Obama is what Texas used to balance its budget.

Perry then went on the tea party circuit with Mark Sanford, bragging about turning down $550 million to help unemployed Texans. (Our unemployment rate just hit 8.2 percent, incidentally, with more than 44,000 more Texans out of work last month).

But Perry once again mysteriously forgot to tell The Journal and those tea partiers that he had personally requested — and Texas will receive — some $16 billion in Obama's stimulus money.

Now Dewhurst also appears unable to stay off the Wonderland bandwagon. Dewhurst wrote a column about "How Texas lives within its means" (Oct. 21) and points out that we have a balanced budget!

Of course, we all learn in sixth grade that Texas has a constitutional provision requiring a balanced budget, so we can't fault Dewhurst for knowing that one. And the balanced budget mandate is a good thing.

But then he falls into the same rabbit hole Perry fell in. Dewhurst brags that he "led the effort to save $7 billion to balance the revenue shortfall we anticipated this year."

That's interesting because Texas spent $12.6 billion more this session than last session. How you spend $12.6 billion more while cutting $7 billion is a real feat.

Incredibly, Dewhurst adds: "It's simply political fiction that stimulus dollars were necessary to balance our budget." Now that, folks, is what we in Texas politely call total bull.

Don't believe me. I'm just the chair of the House Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding — in charge of monitoring Texas spending of stimulus dollars. I'm a Democrat, too, so maybe you should hear from a Republican.

How about what the Republican chair of the Senate Finance Committee told the Fort Worth Business Press last week?

"In order to balance the budget this biennium, which is $182 billion, we used $14 billion in federal stimulus money to balance it," said State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan. "We're not expecting a similar amount of similar money to be available in the next two years, because the federal government just doesn't have it. So, assuming that's true, you go into the next session with a $14 billion hole."

Does that sound like responsible budgeting or what? We spent all the stimulus money in such a way that we will "go into the next session with a $14 billion hole."

The problem with much of the current Republican Party leadership is not that they disagree with Democrats. The real problem is that they disagree with reality.

By shamelessly pretending that in is out and up is down, they have spun themselves into Wonderland.

Whether you like the stimulus or not, this misinformation is getting out of hand.

Dunnam, D-Waco, is chairman of the House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding and also a House Democratic leader.

© 2009 Austin American-Statesman: www.statesman.com

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