Waters: Beshear Has More Smoke Than Corn Cob Pipe
By Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute
LEXINGTON, KY - I’m not sure President Barack Obama asked for help with sharpening his campaign message, but Politico reports that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear offered a couple of gems anyhow.
First, he advised Obama to cease accepting so much responsibility for our nation’s stalled economic recovery.
Apparently, Beshear believes that Americans’ – including Kentuckians’ – growing lack of confidence in the current administration has nothing to do with record unemployment, hundreds of billions in failed stimulus spending, forcing unsustainable energy sources on our communities or pushing the country down the treacherous road of socialized medicine.
Instead, the governor claims the reason for the public’s lack of faith in Obama is that “he’s allowed the other side to pin a lot of this economy, over which he’s had no control in terms of the recession occurring, on him.”
While, there’s no question that our nation’s economic problems began before Obama took the oath of office, to absolve this president of all responsibility while putting all of the blame on past leadership is about as reasonable as blaming silverware for obesity.
Former President George W. Bush, Obama’s predecessor, gets low marks for the disintegration of his administration’s economic policy into the realm of the delusional best exemplified when Bush revealed in a CNN television interview that he had “abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.”
But that’s exactly why the nation’s shareholders – the American people – fired one party and hired a new chief executive. They wanted someone who would solve problems, not whine like a little kid on “The Nanny.”
Perhaps the more amazing part of Beshear’s advice to Obama was in prodding the president to, as Politico described it, “rediscover the stimulus” as part of his campaign.
“The voters he talks to in Kentucky know and respect the stimulus,” the article reported, to which Beshear added: “Most of the states, including Kentucky, would not be where they are today if we hadn’t received a lot of that money.”
Really? Our governor credits the current administration’s policies for the state of affairs Kentucky finds itself in today, and he actually does so in the positive sense of the word.
I wonder which part of the “where we are today” he likes best:
•Kentucky’s 8.6 percent unemployment rate, up from 5.6 percent the day Beshear took office.
•State government’s addiction to borrowing has more than doubled the debt-load amount for each individual Kentuckian during the past decade – from $996 in 2003 to around $2,100 today.
•The commonwealth has the fourth-worst funded pension plan in the country. Actuaries recommend that public retirement funds drop no lower than 80 percent. Kentucky’s system is only 54 percent funded.
•Kentuckians’ median household income has fallen since Beshear took office and now is more than $8,000 below national numbers.
•Promised – but nonexistent – jobs. The Lexington Herald-Leader checked with individual employers during last year’s election and found that many of the 19,500 jobs Beshear claimed to have “created or retained” to that point simply “do not exist.”
The governor likes to tout his prowess during these recessionary times, boasting that he was able to “balance the budget eight times in three years.”
Of course, Beshear fails to add that he did so by simply delaying the inevitable and using $3 billion in stimulus and other one-time funds to paper over our debt. This so-called solution will eventually require a tough choice: either cutting expenditures or replacing stimulus dollars with other funding sources.
The governor seems much too busy blowing smoke right now to consider – much less make – such a decision.
Jim Waters is acting president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read previously published columns at www.freedomkentucky.org/bluegrassbeacon.