Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ category

Time for prudent fiscal policies in Albany – By George J. Marlin

September 7, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, September 6, 2021 on The Island Now’s website: 

The word “prudence” is rarely uttered in the political arena. This is particularly true in Albany where Democrats, controlling the state government, have been acting like kids in a candy store spending every penny of their allowances the day they receive it.

For those under 60, not exposed to classical and medieval thinkers who opined on “prudence,” here’s a little background.

The greatest Athenian philosopher, Aristotle (384-322 BC), distinguished scientific knowledge and craft knowledge from practical wisdom—“phronesis” or prudence. The historian John Mearsheimer, interpreted Aristotle’s position as meaning “prudence dictates that [politicians] behave according to realistic logic.” So, for instance, Albany’s politicians spending all the state’s one-shot revenues on recurring operating expenditures, would be imprudent and contrary to “realistic logic.”

In medieval times, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275), writing in his masterpiece the “Summa Theologica,” agreed with Aristotle and defined “prudence” as “wisdom concerning human affairs” or “right reason with respect to action.”

Perhaps the most succinct definition of “prudence” was expressed by the contemporary French thinker André Comte-Sponville. “Prudence,” he noted, is “what differentiates action from impulse and heroes from hotheads.”

And having watched this year’s spending spree in Albany, I have concluded there were plenty of impulsive hotheads who have ignored practical financial reasoning.

This year the state Legislature approved a record-breaking $212 billion spending plan. They imprudently funded the budget by dispersing the unrestricted federal COVID one-shot revenues of $12.2 billion and on top of that increased taxes by $4 billion.

They also utilized various fiscal gimmicks such as deferring $3.5 billion in Medicare payments owed to providers into the next fiscal year.

The fiscal antics of the spendthrifts in Albany may get them through the 2022 elections, but as E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy pointed out, “after that the bottom falls out with big and growing deficits projected by mid-decade.”

There is one elected official, however, who preaches prudential fiscal realism, and that person is State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has released thoughtful annual reports analyzing the flaws in the state’s budget plans and he has warned, time and again, that steps must be taken to shore-up the state’s finances.

In a recent op-ed DiNapoli penned for Newsday, he calls for much-needed prudent fiscal measures.

DiNapoli warns that the state’s current fiscal plan has inherent risks. “A slowing recovery or a second economic downturn,” he cautions, “will upend revenue forecasts, and may create spending pressures to extend or enhance programs currently funded federally or intended to be temporary.”

Yes, a drop in capital gains revenues that the state is heavily dependent on or a mass exodus of the top 1 percent of taxpayers, who pay about 40 percent of New York’s personal income taxes, could be devastating.

To avoid a fiscal meltdown, DiNapoli made several sound recommendations:

  1. “Prudently [his word] and transparently use federal recovery aid.” Avoid employing one-shot dollars “to support recurring spending, which may put spending on an unsustainable trajectory.”
  2. Replenish the state’s rainy-day funds that are presently significantly below the statutorily authorized $6.4 billion.
  3. “Carefully consider strategic infrastructure priorities.” Proceeds from long-term bonded debt should be used prudently for projects that “are most important to improve service, enhance economic growth, or address repair needs.” In other words, avoid boondoggles like Cuomo’s scandal-ridden “Buffalo Billion.”

Following these steps, DiNapoli rightfully concludes, “will help ensure the state limits the financial impact of future risks and is able to sustain investments through downturns, disasters and other emergencies.”

The key concern of the prudent government official, Aristotle wrote, “is to determine not ends, but means to ends, i.e., what is most useful to do.”

And Comptroller DiNapoli’s recommendations are “most useful” because they are not driven by delusional ideological formulas that have no relation to reality.
Tom DiNapoli is a prudent politician whose analyses could save an ailing state.

If the leaders of the Democratic Party are wise, they would nominate DiNapoli as their gubernatorial candidate in 2022.

But don’t hold your breath. Sadly, the AOC-wing of the party will not be content until the chief executive office is controlled by one of their imprudent “tax and spend” comrades.

Emulate True Freedom, Not Leftist Icons Like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. – By George J. Marlin

July 1, 2021

This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on Thursday, July 1, 2021.

Woke Capitalists Are Left’s Best Useful Idiots – By George J. Marlin

May 20, 2021

This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on Thursday, May 20, 2021.

Minority Voters Are Rejecting Identity Politics – By George J. Marlin

November 20, 2020

This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on Friday, November 20, 2020.

What happened November 3? – By George J. Marlin

November 17, 2020

The following appeared on Monday, November 16, 2020 on The Island Now’s website:

For months, pundits, pollsters and Democratic Party spokesmen were insisting that on Nov. 3, a blue tsunami would wash away Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants.

Joe Biden’s landslide victory, they told us ad nauseum, would make Chuck Schumer majority leader, increase Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House membership, topple GOP governors and turn numerous red state legislatures blue.

Well, the blue tsunami turned out to be nothing more than an electoral trickle.

True, Trump lost. Nevertheless, he received more votes than any Republican in history. His total, 73 million was 10 million more than he received in 2016.

Working-class folks and seniors of every race and creed came out in droves for Trump. Those voters—once the key constituencies that elected Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy—deserted the party of their parents and grandparents because they were tired of Democratic Party elites who frowned upon their bourgeois values and ridiculed them as uneducated “deplorables,” “irredeemables,” and “chumps.”

As a result, Biden won the popular vote by only 4 percent, not the 8 percent to 10 percent polling experts preceded.

As for the Senate, it is likely Sen. Mitch McConnell will remain majority leader. Predictions that Sens. Lindsay Graham, Susan Collins and Joni Ernst were slated for defeat were wrong.

Senator Collins of Maine—the key target of Democrats because she dared to vote for Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination—easily beat her opponent by 12 percentage points. Polls that had her losing by  9 percent were off by an astounding 21 points.

Democratic expectations in the House failed to materialize. Instead of picking up 20 additional seats, Democrats are currently down 11 and that could grow once all the ballots are counted.

Speaker Pelosi’s majority will be the narrowest since the 1940s.

On state levels, contrary to predictions, Republicans gained one governorship and on Jan. 1 will control the governor’s mansion in 27 states.

In state legislature elections, Ballotpedia reports that “Republicans won new majorities in at least two chambers: the New Hampshire State Senate and House of Representatives. There were no chambers where Democrats won new majorities in 2020.”

Republicans will continue to have majorities in at least 60 state legislative chambers vs. the Democrats at 38. This will give the GOP an edge in redrawing congressional district lines next year.

Most interesting, Trump made significant gains with working-class minorities.

Overall, he received 26 percent of non-white voters. Among Latinos, 32 percent cast their ballots for Trump, up from 28 percent in 2016. Support among black voters went from 8 percent in 2016 to 12 percent. An astounding 18 percent of black men voted for Trump.

In Florida, Trump made incredible gains in Latino communities. He won 55 percent of Cuban-Americans and overall Latino support for the president totaled 47 percent, up 12 points.

These numbers explain why in heavily Latino Miami-Dade County, Biden carried it by only 7 percentage points vs. Hillary Clinton’s 30-point lead four years earlier.

Texas witnessed similar shifts.

In Starr County, located along the Mexican border and over 90 percent Latino, Democrats have routinely carried it by more than 43 percentage points. This year Starr County residents, The Wall Street Journal reported, “voted for President Trump in a red wave that moved the South Texas county from Hillary Clinton’s 60-point margin in 2016 to a 5-point win for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, the largest swing to Trump of any county in the U.S.”

In neighboring Zapata County, which Clinton carried by 33 points, Trump beat Biden 53% to 47%.

As for deep blue New York, Democratic expectations were also dashed. Donald Trump received 41 percent of votes cast vs. 36.52 percent in 2016. His vote total is up at least 300,000.

Republicans are poised to pick up two Congressional seats, and five Assembly seats. Democratic plans to obtain a veto-proof state Senate appear to have failed.

Yes, even in New York, many voters made it clear they reject the plans of extreme leftist Democrats led by Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to raise taxes, to defund the police, and to eliminate bail, charter schools and private health insurance.

Reading the election tea leaves, State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, took a shot at AOC.

“AOC,” he said, “has no standing on how to run a general election in the suburbs and upstate. AOC is in a district that’s 6-1 Democrat and she couldn’t find a Republican in her district with binoculars … I invite AOC to come to Long Island and stand for election in one of our districts. You’ll see different results.”

While Trump may be on his way out, the conservative movement is not down and out.

And if Biden succumbs to pressure form the radicals in his party and enacts the far-left programs outlined in the Sanders-Biden 110-page Unity Manifesto, don’t be surprised if the GOP makes an even stronger comeback in the 2022 mid-term elections.