Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Are New Mexicans Hypocrites On Federal Spending? No, They Aren't, Plus: Obama's El Paso Visit, And: Sen. Ingle's Break With Guv; What's It Mean?
What responsibility does our little state of two million souls have in helping to resolve the nation's enormous budget deficit of $14 trillion? Should we pitch in and acquiesce to large cuts to our military bases, national labs and other government funding? Shouldn't we be part of a plan that calls on everyone to sacrifice? The short answer is "no."
New Mexico receives much from the federal government because it has given so much. This was the place the nation designated to set off the first atomic bomb. How's that for giving back?
The USA takes advantage of our clear blue skies and wide open spaces for location of major defense bases; we've provided a home for the often controversial development and research into nuclear weaponry at Los Alamos and Sandia; we are the site for WIPP--a repository for low level nuclear waste--and we are home to a large swath of the Navajo reservation, established by the federal government, but whose people also look to the state for support.
One could argue that we get more than we give. But don't buy it. The massive federal presence here has made us somewhat of a federal colony. It has been extremely difficult to encourage a diverse private economy when so many of our businesses are created to serve Uncle Sam's needs. That, too, is sacrifice.
In the years ahead, the state's congressional delegation may be accused of hypocrisy as they pitch in to reduce the mammoth deficit, but protect their state from ugly cuts (at least we hope they d0). But they and all New Mexicans have nothing to be ashamed of. We began earning our way once the dawn skies over Trinity Site glowed from a light never before seen.
OBAMA IN El PASO
The President made a brief stop in El Paso Tuesday. It was a badly needed one. Recent polling shows Hispanics, so important to Obama's political success, have become disgruntled with him, the economy being an obvious reason (We have an item below about high Hispanic unemployment).
Immigration reform is also a major concern and Obama tackled that one during his speech.
Obama predicted Republicans would seek to block his new immigration reform drive, quipping they would demand alligators in a moat around America's borders. Opening a new push on offering a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, seen by many as a bid to appease crucial Hispanic voters, Obama decried the way toxic Washington politics had roadblocked reform.
(Like that Alligator quote. Mr. Prez).
Southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce came with this reaction to Obama's stop:
The President continues to talk about border issues from El Paso and Washington, while turning a blind eye to the lack of security only miles away. The violence and trafficking of drugs, weapons, and human beings continues to plague my constituents. We cannot possibly address immigration without first facing our border security problems. It is unfortunate that the President missed an opportunity to hear from my constituents about the need for serious measures.
We don't know if the President has turned a blind eye toward the drug related carnage just over the border, but Pearce is right that the Feds haven't done enough about it. But from this perch, the fight can't only be about securing the New Mexico border. The administration needs to be more involved in ending the drug-related carnage inside the borders of Mexico. That isn't easy, but the ongoing slaughter in our southern neighbor demands outside of the box thinking.
As for Pearce's charge on border security, the President's spokesman says:
We have substantially increased the number of border patrol agents twice -- more than 20,000 now--twice the number that there were in 2004. We have tripled the number of intelligence agents--analysts who are working on border patrol.
Obama himself added:
El Paso and other cities and towns along this border are consistently among the safest in the nation.
And Dem Senator Tom Udall counters Pearce:
"In 2007, I supported the efforts of former President George W. Bush to overhaul the immigration system, and I applaud President Obama for again bringing this issue to the forefront.
“Meaningful reform is about more than just building a fence or arresting undocumented immigrants....It's making sure that...law enforcement have the necessary resources to secure the border and keep our communities safe. It’s taking steps to bring the millions of people already living here illegally out of the shadows, included deporting undocumented criminals while providing a path to earned legalization that includes learning English and paying back taxes for individuals who have become productive members of society. It also includes penalizing employers who illegally hire immigrants.
CRACK IN THE DAM
Yes, we certainly did notice that State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle has parted company with Governor Martinez over one of her line item vetoes, signaling a crack in GOP Senate solidarity. But his fellow R's can hardly blame him. Susana actually lowered the amount of an appropriation approved by the legislature by crossing out a number. That meant oversight funds for regional housing authorities went from $150,000 to $50,000. Talk about an easy way for a Governor to cut a budget.
But it's likely that the new Guv will be challenged in court over that veto--and lose. Said Ingle:
"You're setting a very dangerous precedent when the amounts are changed."
Well, you are also basically saying the Legislature doesn't matter and Senators--no matter what party they belong to--aren't going to go along with that,
Blog reader Joe Barela offered his theory on the audacious veto:
I suspect that just like the firings and some of her other dealings that she has no concept of what the legal limitations of her powers are.
Well, Joe, we think she is very mindful of the limitations of her power and she's trying to expand them. And don't think that's "bold change." Governors Richardson and Johnson were notorious for trying to cut corners with the legislature.
Martinez isn't gun-shy either which is a good quality to have when faced with a crisis where you have to call out the National Guard or deal with fires and floods. We don't need a meek executive and we don't have one.
What you are seeing with Dem Senate leader Jennings--whose relationship with the Governor we blogged bout yesterday and now Senator Ingle--is institutional push back. Ingle also wants a seat at the table and apparently there was no chair for him on the Fourth Floor so he took his concerns public. In this instance, he is a Senator first and a Republican second. Ingle has been in the Senate game for over a quarter century and Jennings even longer. Your patience level tends to expand with that length of service. When he takes on a GOP Governor it is sit up and take notice time.
Martinez may have 90 percent support in the polls from the Republican base, but long term players like Ingle are not going to be intimidated and will assert the power of their co-equal branch of government when the need arises. Nothing new about that. Well, at least not for those of us who do not have an itchy finger on a veto pen.
Domenici & Wilson
One of the Senior Alligators informed us Tuesday that:
The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) used to employ 500-600 at Kirtland. I think it now employees around 180.
To which a longtime staffer for former GOP US Senator Pete Domenici reacted:
The AFOTEC loss was the direct result of (former ABQ GOP Congresswoman) Heather Wilson and Pete leaving office. Heather protected and supported AFOTEC her entire Congressional career.
Wilson's willingness to fight for the state's federal dollars--and her success doing it--is one of the strongest arguments she has that she should become the state's next US Senator. If she doesn't offset it by embracing the radical plans put forth for Social Security and Medicare by House Republicans, she could be a formidable GOP nominee.
As for Domenici, how much federal money have we lost as a result of his departure from the US Senate? He ended his political career in 2008, just as the economy went south. It has hurt.
JOBS AND HISPANICS
This grabbed our attention from NM Voices for Children:
The unemployment rate for Hispanics is significantly higher than it is for non-Hispanic whites, according to a new issue brief from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The report, Distressed New Mexico: An ongoing and uneven employment crisis by Douglas Hall and Algernon Austin, finds that in 2010, the Hispanic unemployment rate was 12.5 percent, while non-Hispanic white unemployment rate was 8 percent.
Here in New Mexico, the disparity is slightly smaller—with 9 percent of Hispanics unemployed versus just under 7 percent of non-Hispanic whites, but labor experts say there is still cause for concern.
“Despite the slightly better rate in New Mexico, the disparity is magnified here because Hispanics make up a larger share of the population than elsewhere in the nation,” said Gerry Bradley, Research Director for New Mexico Voices for Children, which co-released the report.
From the AP:
Tours of Spaceport America in southern New Mexico will be offered to the public starting this week. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority announced that it selected Albuquerque-based company Follow The Sun Inc. to conduct the preview tours.
The spaceport is expected to be fully operational later this year. The tours are aimed at giving guests an up close look at the spaceflight facilities before operations begin. The three-hour tour will cost adults $59 and $29 for children under 12.
Hey, Susana finally has a chance to get over to the Spaceport. Now we only need Jon Barela to put up the $59 bucks....
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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