Archive for October 7, 2010

Joe DioGuardi not a Rockefeller Republican – By George J. Marlin

October 7, 2010

The following appears in the October 8-14  issue of the Long Island Business News:

Since winning the Republican primary for the special U.S. Senate election, early polls indicate former Hudson Valley Congressman Joe DioGuardi is within striking distance of Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.

When asked about these startling numbers, the campaign staff of our unelected junior senator released this reply: “We … know that as New Yorkers get to know Congressman Joe DioGuardi, they will see he is way, way, way out of step with even traditional Rockefeller Republicans in New York.”

What a strange comment. First of all, most “traditional Rockefeller Republicans” are dead; the former governor died in 1979. Secondly, Nelson Rockefeller, who served as governor for 14 years (1959-1973), was a liberal who created most of the reckless fiscal gimmicks that have brought New York to the edge of bankruptcy. Third, DioGuardi is a mainstream conservative who has proudly been out of step with Rockefeller Republicans and proudly fought their big spending programs his entire career.

Gillibrand and her staff members are probably too young to remember the financial chaos Rocky wreaked on New York, so here’s a little historical background for them to ponder:

During his tenure as governor, Rockefeller went on the greatest spending spree in the state’s history. He earned the distinction of having requested more tax increases than any governor before or since he left office. No fewer than 18 tax bills were enacted between 1959 and 1973.

To maintain the “pay-as-you-go” front, Rockefeller utilized inaccurate revenue projections, tax deferrals and accelerated payment schedules – all fiscal gimmicks designed to achieve on paper the state constitutional requirements of a balanced budget.

To circumvent the constitutional mandate that general obligation debt be submitted for voter approval, Rocky started using various existing and new state agencies to issue debt to pay for his building schemes.
Rocky would persuade the board of an agency to construct a building that would be leased to the state. The lease payments, which coincidentally covered the principal and interest due on the bonds issued to finance the building, would come out of the state’s general operating budget. Although the state is technically obligated to pay off the agency’s bonds according to the terms of the lease, it is not considered a state general-obligation debt, and therefore – again technically – voter approval is unnecessary. Thus was Rocky able to have his cake and eat it, too.

The fearless Rockefeller began his first term by pushing through legislation called the New York Housing Finance Agency, the first of 230 agencies and authorities he created that incurred debt by 1973 of $12 billion.

When Rockefeller entered office, his first budget was $2 billion; when he left office, his last budget was $8.7 billion. New Yorkers were the most heavily taxed citizens in the nation, and their state had the highest public debt in the nation. Democrat Hugh Carey, analyzing the financial disaster he inherited when he was sworn in as governor in January 1975, concluded: “I’ve seen delicatessens in bankruptcy in better shape than the state of New York.”

Since 1975, Republicans have been exorcising the intellectually bankrupt Rockefeller tradition from the state GOP. For instance, in 1980, Al D’Amato – a Gillibrand mentor – knocked off the most notorious Rocky liberal, Sen. Jacob Javits, and went on to serve 18 years in the senate. In 1984, Conservative Joe DioGuardi proved how the tide had turned when he was elected to the Westchester congressional seat that included the ancestral home of the Rockefellers, Pocantico Hills.

Gillibrand is really out of touch if she believes painting DioGuardi as too fiscally conservative for Rockefeller. The last supporters of big government in this state are Gillibrand and the public employee unions who support her. And if she sticks to that line, expect a surprise Tea Party victory in November.

Life Issues and the Mid-Term Elections – By George J. Marlin

October 7, 2010

This article I wrote appeared on The Catholic Thing web site on October 6, 2010.