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Possible Budgeting Illusions from Raimondo

Shortly after Governor Gina Raimondo gave her presentation on Rhode Island’s economy and its budget implications, somebody asked me what I expected in her budget.  Here’s a succinct summary of the presentation from the Cranston Herald editorial board:

Neither cuts nor tax increases, the presentation asserts, will solve the problem. The sales tax would need to be raised from its current 7 percent to 8.8 percent in fiscal 2017 to close the projected budget gap. Meanwhile, the $255.6 million shortfall foreseen for that year significantly exceeds the total budgets of 21 combined state agencies.

The governor’s presentation proposes instead a shifting of resources to focus on job growth, creating a “virtuous cycle” in which those investments in education, infrastructure and property tax relief expand employment opportunities and thus grow the state’s revenue base.

My expectation is that Raimondo will follow the playbook from pension reform, with these steps:

  1. Declare a dire problem, consisting of a short-term emergency and long-term doom.
  2. Propose some technocratic solution that will supposedly fix the long-term problem once and for all.
  3. Make sure that there are enough gimmicks in the solution to defuse the short-term emergency and expect attention to have drifted by the time it falls apart.

The short-term emergency, in this case, is a balanced budget for the  next fiscal year, starting this July, and the long-term doom is the unyielding projected deficits resulting, in large part, from Rhode Island’s continuing economic decline.  The expectation, then, is that Raimondo’s budget will include some sort of new revenue stream, perhaps justified by its use toward some economic development scheme, mixed with budget reductions of the “waste and fraud” variety.  Whether the elusive waste-and-fraud savings could be realized is actually immaterial, inasmuch as the budget would be balanced on paper, and adjustments could be made when the budget is reviewed in November and fixed sometime during the fiscal year, when the eyes of those few who pay attention are mainly focused on the next year’s budget.

That’s what I told the person who asked me.  It was notable, therefore, to see this in yesterday’s Providence Journal:

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello on Tuesday disclosed that Gov. Gina Raimondo had asked him if she could include “$40 million to $50 million’’ in Medicaid cuts, as a “placeholder” in her first budget proposal, without spelling out how and where she intended to reduce spending in the $2.7 billion government subsidized health-care program.

Mattiello said the governor told him, “in very general terms that there would be some kind of a placeholder and a request for a task force to figure out the cuts.’’

The Bill Just Grows and Grows

Sometimes it’s breathtaking, the mismanagement of the United States of America, which has been increasing over decades, to be sure, but which is to the point of being difficult to take.  (Of course, the feeling is especially acute in a place like Rhode Island, with a state government intent on leading the country in mismanagement.)

The examples come like a rising tide that never recedes.  Take, for example, the $16.6 billion taxpayer price tag for bailing out automobile manufacturers.  That’s 20% of the total program, down the drain.

Even worse is the cost of the government takeover of student loans.  What makes it worse is not just the fact that the price tag is $21.8 billion, or that it may be an annual expense, rather than a one-time loss, but the precedent that it sets.  Consider:

… because of a quirk in the budget process for credit programs, the department can add the $21.8 billion to the deficit automatically, without seeking appropriations or even approval from Congress.

In short, the Obama Administration has given the higher education industry a direct line to the debt of the United States of America — that seemingly imaginary debt that politicians pretend will never come due, but that is currently projected to be more expensive, each year, than either defense or discretionary spending by the time a child currently in fifth grade graduates from high school.

How Tax Rates Work, and What They Look Like in the East Bay

I’ve got a short post, with an accompanying map, on Tiverton Fact Check to give a quick explanation of the backwards way in which Rhode Island cities and towns develop their tax rates and how Tiverton’s compare with the cities and towns around it.

On the first count, the thing that many folks don’t realize is that the tax rate tends to be the last thing calculated.  It’s just the rate that the government has to apply to the properties in town in order to collect the amount of money officials say they need.  In other words, it starts with them, the government, not you, the people.

If towns focused more on the rates, then the government would have more incentive to make residents’ properties worth more, one way or another.

On the second count, the picture isn’t pretty.  At $19.30 per $1,000, Tiverton’s tax rate is significantly higher than that of any city or town around it, in Rhode Island or in Massachusetts.  The one exception is Warren, where the property values are lower.

Compared with Westport, right next door across the state line, the tax rate is less than half of Tiverton’s.  A Tiverton family with a $250,000 house will pay $4,825 in property taxes, this year, while a family with a house of the same value (which would likely be comparable in size) in Westport would pay only $1,983.

That’s almost an extra $3,000 that the Massachusetts family can invest, save, or spend… perhaps doing something that increases the value of the property.

Can Kicking Defines Public-Sector Pensions

The entire structure, including the politics, of public-sector pensions is an exercise in kicking a can down the road.  It’s been rewarding to public officials to give lavish pensions to government employees, because it wins them votes, the financing confuses most people, and the bill doesn’t come due for decades.  A sufficiently aware electorate would be learning the lesson and not being so easily fooled.

Unfortunately, the public isn’t sufficiently aware, and so we get more can kicking.  Here’s what I mean:

Lawyers from both sides in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s sweeping 2011 pension overhaul law met in Newport Tuesday for a closed-door status conference with the judge. A court official said the jury trial in the case remains scheduled to begin April 20.

Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter said last month that she was satisfied that a jury should settle the long-running case. Meanwhile, Governor Raimondo, who as general treasurer crafted and lobbied lawmakers to approve the overhaul, has expressed willingness to try again to settle the case before then.

Why would Gina Raimondo want to settle the case?  As the general treasurer championing the pension reform, she expressed confidence that it was lawful far and wide, and even if there’s now doubt, why not get an answer?  Of all people in Rhode Island, she should know what a looming avalanche pensions threaten if they aren’t reformed.  And of all people in Rhode Island, the governor has a responsibility to guide the state past disaster.

We need to know how far the state can go toward undoing the unreasonable, impossible promises of past politicians, as encouraged by labor unions that gamed the system to control both sides of every bargaining table.  The sooner we find out that this reform isn’t constitutional (if it isn’t), the sooner we can get to work finding another — or changing the constitution, if no other reform will do.

Raimondo may still be confident that the state would win its case but wants to avoid the risk; there are two problems of short-sightedness to that approach.  First, it assumes that the things negotiated are worth sacrificing, and those things might only be indirectly related to pensions.  It’s possible that recent talk about exempting retirement income from state taxes is just a backdoor gimme to the unions, and that expense will require either cuts or taxes in another area.  It’s also possible that Education Commissioner Deborah Gist’s job is on the negotiating table, which means that the future of Rhode Island’s children is a possible sacrifice on the pension altar. Is that worth it?

Second, if folks like me are correct that Raimondo’s pension reform was insufficient to solve the problem, then future reforms will be necessary.  In that case, if Raimondo’s reform stands because of behind-the-scenes negotiations, future reforms will be much more difficult to enact, because Rhode Island will have a better sense of the legal battle ahead, but without any more legal certainty.

The Bookends of RI’s Library of Decline

A pair of articles in yesterday’s Providence Journal give an excellent indication of why Rhode Island is the way it is.  The first is about the receiver’s plan for firefighters’ new employment deal with the Central Coventry Fire District.  The details of the plan are definitely interesting, but the key part, in my view, comes at the end:

The union will contest the new terms in bankruptcy court.

“We’ll out-lawyer them and outspend them and out-fight them,” Gorman said.

Think of the structural conditions — political and legal — that underlie that threat.  A financially struggling fire district must balance legal fees against the employment packages that the union is protecting.  Meanwhile, the union is fighting with money absorbed, at the point of the taxman’s gun, from local residents.  Can we agree that the union’s ability to “outspend” the employer (if true) is a pretty good indication that maybe the union has gone a bit beyond fixing a supposed imbalance between employer and employee?

The second article is about some hires by the new general treasurer of Rhode Island, Seth Magaziner:

Treasurer-elect Seth Magaziner has announced another round of staff picks, including Tom Sgouros as his senior policy adviser.

Sgouros, who waged a short-lived 2010 campaign for treasurer, describes himself as an engineer at Brown University and a freelance writer and public policy consultant who has consulted in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California and Vermont “on public finance, banking, tax policy, and sustainable economic development.”

Reporter Kathy Gregg leaves out the important background that Sgouros is one of the central spokesmen for Rhode Island’s far-left progressives.  (For fun, rewrite Gregg’s second sentence as it would appear if some conservative treasurer had appointed me as senior policy adviser.”)

In fact, we’re watching a whole generation of far-left progressives work their way into state government positions.  In 2013, then-Governor Chafee hired progressive activist Kate Brock, for example, and  even the supposedly conservative Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello (D, Cranston) hired RIFuture founder Matt Jerzyk to his legal staff.  That hiring produced this statement, which can’t help but resonate oddly for long-time followers of Rhode Island’s Left and Right:

“Matt’s experience in city and state government will be a valuable addition as we continue to focus on growing the economy and creating jobs,” Mattiello said in a statement.

How exactly are our leading elected officials planning to “grow the economy and create jobs” with staffs full of progressives?  Whatever the answer to that question might be, the two articles from yesterday’s paper  illustrate the left-right punches by which progressives implement policies and insiders, like public-sector labor unions, benefit from the unfair rules of the game.

The next round of RI’s political history has only just dawned, but it’s a safe bet that we’re entering four more years of what the last four brought, more or less.

Municipal Bonds, Another Phony Sword of Damocles

The great government machine has all sorts of ways that officials can shift blame off themselves and ensure that everything is always the responsibility of voters and taxpayers.  If there are budgetary problems, it’s because you haven’t contributed enough.  If more money is needed, it’s more often than not up to you to give more money (even if it’s confiscated in an indirect way), rather than for government to pare down its activities or run with much less waste.

That observation has had a very clear illustration, recently, in Tiverton.

In short, last May, taxpayers voted themselves a 0% tax increase by using about $600,000 of the slush fund above the reserves that are required (and protected from abuse) by the town’s Home Rule Charter.  In setting a bond rating for the town, this November, Standard & Poor’s mentioned that action as a factor in their analysis.

Now, local politicians are priming the rhetoric to use that fact as a political weapon and to justify a bigger tax increase in the next budget.  Taxpayers shouldn’t listen.  Most of what the politicians are saying just isn’t true and is ultimately a decoy away from their bad management… things like letting the firefighters’ union set up a scenario in which a couple of employees out on disability leave can cost the town around a half-million dollars in additional overtime.

For a deep-dive analysis on Tiverton Fact Check, I took the seemingly unprecedented steps of actually communicating with the S&P analysts, figuring out their rating method enough to calculate multiple scenarios, and researching the impact of bond ratings on the actual rates that municipalities pay.  The upshot?

Most of the [officals’] comments are misleading or downright incorrect.  Tiverton was not “downgraded” because voters used some of the town’s unassigned funds at last year’s financial town referendum for a 0% tax increase; money in the town’s reserve fund was not the most significant factor in Tiverton’s bond rating; and failing to achieve a higher bond rating will not cost the town a significant money, if it cost the town anything at all.

Some 2015 Predictions (HealthSource and RhodeMap)

Filling in for Matt Allen on WPRO, last night, Jay Martins asked me to call in with predictions (and warnings, really) about HealthSource RI and RhodeMap RI.  Here are my notes for the call:

HealthSource

When commentator Avik Roy was looking for the perfect quotation to summarize Vermont’s aborted flirtation with single-payer healthcare in Forbes magazine, he picked Raimondo’s choice to lead HealthSource RI, Anya Rader Wallack. What she said was: “We can move full speed ahead…without knowing where the money’s coming from.”

That pretty much sums up the strategy with HealthSource RI, too. They leapt into this thing expecting the money just to materialize, and it didn’t.

The ironic problem is that Wallack’s primary job this year will be figuring out where the money’s coming from.

Prediction:  There will be some dramatic hearings and political battling with House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D, Cranston), but ultimately, the government insiders like HealthSource enough — mostly as a stepping stone to our own attempt at giving government all control over healthcare — that they’ll give him something substantial that he wants as a trade. What that’ll be may be the most important answer we’ll get in the next six months.

 

RhodeMap

We can only hope that this will be a big story.  RhodeMap’s going to be more interesting than HealthSource in its way. What we’re going to see are:

  • Local pro-RhodeMap/Smart Growth activists trying to get on local planning boards
  • Stealth legislation and ordinances to give planning boards more authority
  • Other stealth legislation and ordinances to push forward RhodeMap principles, which have a lot of money and insider and activist support behind them.

The big questions are:

  • How strongly cities and towns will push back
  • How insiders in the state and federal government will ultimately thwart those towns and anti-RhodeMap activists that manage to gain local traction — whether regulation, legislation, judicial hearings, or politically undermining them
  • Whether the general public’s interest (and outrage) can be maintained

Eminent domain is definitely a flash point that will grab the public’s attention, and despite assurances, RhodeMap does open the door for it, but there are many lower-grade tools in the central planners’ toolbox.  First, they’ll work on pressuring property owners through taxes, zoning, regulation, and general government harassment, all of which will offer property owners the escape hatch of devices like transfer of development rights.  (That’s when a property owner sells somebody, possibly the government, the rights to develop his or her land, which he or she technically continues to own and the buyer transfers that right in order to develop land somewhere else.)

Only if none of that works will they move forward with property takings, which isn’t likely to happen in 2015.  The targeted property owners will be outraged, but mainstream journalists don’t tend to care about individual property owners when it’s the government that’s harassing them, so the question is whether those with eyes to see will manage to weave together the bigger story and get the public to pay attention to it.

HealthSource, RhodeMap, and the Way Government Plans

You may have seen Ian Donnis’s report that Governor-elect Gina Raimondo intends to replace Christine Ferguson as the head of HealthSource RI, Rhode Island’s ObamaCare health benefits exchange:

The leading candidate to replace Ferguson is Anya Rader Wallack, the president of Arrowhead Health Analytics in Fall River, Massachusetts, and a former policy director and deputy chief of staff for former Vermont governor Howard Dean. Rader Wallack declined comment when contacted by RIPR.

Ms. Rader Wallack may now have the dubious distinction of making an embarrassingly telling comment even before she’s taken office in Rhode Island.  Avik Roy quotes her in Forbes, in an article about the (inevitable) collapse of Vermont progressives’ single-payer-healthcare fantasy:

If there’s one quote that sums up the whole episode, it’s the one from Anya Rader-Wallack, declaring that “we can move full speed ahead…without knowing where the money’s coming from.” Green Mountain Care attempted to offer Vermonters more generous coverage than they currently had, but couldn’t figure out how to convince doctors and hospitals to accept pay cuts, nor workers to accept tax hikes.

That quote sums up HealthSource RI’s story pretty well, too.  As reported on the Current, Ferguson chose not to follow through with a more-detailed projection of its likely effects on the local healthcare market, and the consequences for HealthSource and the state budget could be devastating.

But this is how an organization (in this case, government) plans when everybody making decisions profits simply by being active and bears no real personal risk for failure.  It’s also how people plan when they feel like they can always take other people’s money and pass laws to force people to behave as the plans require.  We see this with RhodeMap RI, too, especially with its Growth Center plans, which have explicitly drawn purposes for land that the government does not own (and whose owners have not been consulted).

The plan for Middletown, for example, makes the particularly chilling suggestion that government operatives should include private commercial property in its planning “because properties on that side of the road may redevelop before the town-owned property does,” and the government needs to “send a message about the desired character of future development.”

Ultimately, that may be the secret to the illusion that we can simply assign ever-greater responsibility in our society to government, and the really smart people who take government jobs will simply figure out the best way to accomplish their goals.  Like novelists, they plan out a plausible reality, and where they write themselves into a corner, they assume that some literary device, some mix of regulatory demands and money confiscation, will solve the problem.

When the author’s power is infinite and the consequences for failure are borne by others, there really isn’t a reason to find evidence that a scheme will actually work.  Full speed ahead!… until the crash, followed by a new six-figure job in another state.

HUD-In-The-News Confirms Critics of Both RhodeMap RI and Today’s PolitiFact RI Rating

… the subject of a column that I just posted to R.I. Taxpayer’s website. Here are the first couple of paragraphs.

A browse through HUD-in-the-news items turns up some interesting and instructive items. First of all, there are several instances of HUD cracking down on municipalities or other public authorities who have taken HUD money but failed to comply with the requirements that accompanied it. Certainly, on the one hand, this is as it should be. Government dollars must be spent as stipulated. On the other, it belies the assurances of advocates of RhodeMap RI that there is nothing to fear about the plan. Significant portions of it would almost certainly have to be implemented with HUD money, at which point, HUD would suddenly have a great deal of power and authority over local land use laws and property rights. Let these HUD crack downs elsewhere be an object lesson, accordingly, to both cities and towns in Rhode Island and to state and local officials who would consider accepting HUD monies, whether under the rubric of RhodeMap RI or not. Be prepared to comply with HUD’s requirements or don’t take the money.

And the latter is exactly what officials in the coincidentally named city of Hudson, OH, did less than two weeks ago, in our next interesting HUD-in-the-news item.

By the way, did anyone else notice that HUD’s letter to Westchester County contains the word “roadmap”??? Towards the bottom of the first page.

… HUD provided the county with a roadmap to coming into compliance …

A HUD “Roadmap”. “RhodeMap RI”. Isn’t that a little too similar to be a coincidence? Or do I need to be talked off the conspiracy ledge?

Death by “Let Them Eat Cake”

I bought a basic cell phone for my grandmother, last night.  As the clerk in the Massachusetts store was adding the phone to my family plan, he remarked, “Wow, you pay a lot of taxes!  Oh, you’re in Rhode Island.”

With that anecdote in mind, this morning, I’d suggest that Rhode Islanders should be wary of advice from an economist who admits that (according to Kate Bramson of the Providence Journal) she’s “puzzled” that Rhode Island’s largest sector, education and healthcare, “is failing to enjoy the growth it’s seeing in the region and the country”:

“…  it seems like there’s this party going on in education and health services,” she continued. “And Rhode Island is not at that party, so I’m not sure why that’s not happening in this state.”

Could it have anything to do with Rhode Island’s heavy regulations and taxes, maybe?  Could it have anything to do with the fact that Rhode Island leads the country in health insurance mandates?  Could it have anything to do with Rhode Island’s teachers’ unions being toward the front of the national pack in their power, especially in political activity and the resources going to the union and union members?

Also on the front page of today’s Providence Journal is a Jennifer Bogdan article about Governor-elect Gina Raimondo’s visit to the White House.  Although the visit, alongside other governors, was mainly a photo-op and meet-and-greet, Bogdan writes, “There were also a few moments for cake.”

Raimondo brought the president a slice of Death by Chocolate Cake from Gregg’s restaurant.  Isn’t that just perfect?

While Rhode Island is failing to join the economic party, the woman who will soon be governor is bringing cake to the president and kicking off her big economic strategy:

“My focus all day … my constant question was, ‘What can you do to help get Rhode Island back to work?’ ” Raimondo said. “I’m going to be very aggressive about knocking on doors.”

In other words, her economic strategy is to be a salesperson, not to change the underlying problems.  That won’t work.  The problem isn’t that business people around the country don’t know Rhode Island is here. It’s that they know what Rhode Island is all about.  It’s all about cake for insiders and shackles for people who want to bring their own little circles of the economy in a personalized direction.

Decreasing taxes, regulations, and mandates and allowing broad school choice would bring the economic party to Rhode Island, but anybody hoping that Raimondo is going to go in the direction of freedom over insiderdom is probably going to be disappointed.

Dangerous Complacency at Rhode Island League of Cities & Towns Towards RhodeMap RI?

A friend forwarded me an interesting and alarming e-mail thread with regard to RhodeMap RI. Below is the text of two of the e-mails, which went out this afternoon, followed by the author and his title. On Thursday morning, the State Planning Council will vote on a proposed Economic Development Plan which largely incorporates the […]

RhodeMap RI: Bipartisan Group of Legislators Calls for Delay; Cite Its “near-total lack of an economic development focus”

The following statement was received via e-mail this afternoon. Attached was a letter addressed to Kevin Flynn, Associate Director of the R.I. Division of Planning.

State Planning Division Faulted For Pursuing “Predetermined Result” With Little Economic Development Focus

Senators, Representatives To File Legislation To Correct Imbalance

State House, Nov 18 – A group of five Republican, Democrat and Independent legislators today called for a delay in approval of the hotly-criticized RhodeMap RI.

The legislators want to correct an imbalance that seems to exclude meaningful action to improve Rhode Island’s poor economic performance, something the State Planning Division has continually tried to characterize as the goal of the effort.

Frustrating Doggedness for a Strategy That Doesn’t Work

On one page of the Saturday Providence Journal Kate Bramson reported a “here we go again” story:

The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation paid $62,500 to the California-based Bridge Bank to keep The Corporate Marketplace current on a $3.75-million loan that the state guarantied in 2011 under a controversial state financial program.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Corporation is working with the company “to restructure the company’s financials and review all options,” with a goal of keeping the company “viable while minimizing exposure to taxpayers,” Commerce Corporation Executive Director Marcel A. Valois told The Providence Journal.

The North Kingstown company is one of four granted loan guaranties under the program that backed a $75-million bond sale to benefit former Red Sox star Curt Schilling’s video-game company.

Apparently, the big lesson that the state learned from 38 Studios was that the government shouldn’t hold companies to the job-creation benchmarks to which they pledged in order to get the money (and which were arguably the core selling point for the program in the first place).

Meanwhile, on another page of the same paper, Bramson reported on the wishlist of special arrangements that functionaries working on behalf of the state would like to put on the table to develop the land freed up through the I-Way project:

[Jan Brodie would] like no sales tax and no corporate taxes for projects built on [the land in Providence]. She’d like an “institutionalized , predictable” tax-stabilization agreement for city property taxes that would last at least 15 years…

She’d like some flexibility on the … obligation to pay back the bonds that were sold to … complete the final phase of the highway project. …

She wants an innovation fund…

Finally, she wants Governor-elect Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor-elect Jorge O. Elorza to “hit the road,” traveling outside Rhode Island to seek specific businesses that might locate here.

Rhode Islanders need to start laughing these people out of the room and insisting on the much simpler (and more-conducive-to-freedom) plan of eliminating and stabilizing taxes and regulations for everybody in the state, while stopping the practice of incurring debt on which the government later requires “flexibility.”

Question #4: In-State Employment Rate of URI Engineering Grads Does Not Justify $125 Million Tab for Taxpayers

This Tuesday, Rhode Island taxpayers will be asked if they are willing to pay an eye-opening $125 million, excluding interest, to construct a new building and renovate existing buildings at URI’s College of Engineering. Proponents claim it will improve Rhode Island’s workforce, but how many URI engineers are actually staying to work in the state, right now?

Latest on the Central Coventry Fire District Includes Threat by Governor’s Lawyers to Personally Sue Fire Board For Standing Up For Democracy

At the height of election fever, let’s not lose track of the latest developments in the disturbing situation involving the Central Coventry Fire District.

The following report, on “Central Coventry Citizens Taskforce for Fire Protection” letterhead and inclusive of two contact names and phone numbers, was sent out via e-mail this afternoon. It appears that at the Monday meeting and in other venues, Governor Chafee has had no compunction in carrying out the almost certainly unconstitutional order of the General Assembly to the taxpayers of the Central Coventry Fire District: – an order that could well come to every fire district in the state: No voting; just shut up and pay.

Progressive Policies Hurting Minorities

Looking at the brief report that the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity released, yesterday, showing some slices of employment data, something struck me about the numbers for labor force participation — that is, percentage of each demographic group that is either working or looking for work:

Notice that a larger percentage of black and Hispanic Rhode Islanders are either working or looking for work.  Inasmuch as the unemployment rate (i.e., those who are looking for jobs) is almost two times higher for blacks than the average and more than two times higher for Hispanics than the average, we can infer that the higher labor force participation rates for those groups result mainly from the unemployed.

That makes sense, of course, because the income levels for these minorities tend to be lower than the average, so their need for jobs is greater.  The gap between people’s need to work and their ability to find work is a humanitarian concern, but it’s also an indication of lost opportunity for our economy.

Here we see another indication of the harm that Rhode Island policies (and progressive policies more broadly) do to the productive class, no matter what race we’re talking about.  These Rhode Islanders want to exchange their productive effort and their talents for money.  Oppressive big-government policies make that exchange more difficult.  High tax rates remove money from the economy and reduce incentive to expand productive activity (both work and investment), and invasive regulations make it more difficult to engage in productive activity legally.

It’s not surprising that minority groups are most profoundly affected by a wrong-headed approach to government.  It is surprising, though, that the votes of different racial groups prove that they haven’t caught on to the abuse, yet.

Gina’s Quantum Position on Raising Taxes; Or, “Dual Nature” Doesn’t Just Describe Matter and Light

On Thursday, Gina Raimondo, democrat candidate for governor, held a press conference during which she accepted the endorsement of Planned Parenthood and expressed a desire to lift the ban in Rhode Island law on partial birth abortion. (Yes, to confirm, contrary to what she lied … er, broadly implied at the press conference, Allan Fung does not wish to change the parameters of Rhode Island’s abortion law, she does.)

This has created some controversy, as well it should, especially on the radio and social media.

On his radio show this morning on WPRO, John Loughlin took a bigger picture perspective to make the case that one of the mistakes candidate Raimondo made at her press conference Thursday was the strategic one of getting off message.

That’s probably true. But there are a couple of additional factors that come into play. Firstly, the General Treasurer is probably pleased to get her candidacy any kind of publicity, even if it doesn’t adhere to her campaign script. (Tomorrow’s episode: “Will She Take Communion???”, co-starring a vociferous cast of advocates, some in the ranks of the press, standing by to canonize her if the Catholic Church moves to bar her from communion.)