Monday, February 05, 2018

Getting Partisan Over "Bipartisanship"; Santa Fe's Latest Mantra Rings Hollow In Face Of A Crime Wave And Long Economic Decline; Our Analysis And Commentary Are Up Next  

How do you make people believe you're doing something when you really aren't doing much of anything? Well, in the bubblefied air of the Roundhouse in Santa Fe you crow  about "bipartisanship" and how we are all there to work together, like you're in church and everyone is singing songs from the same page even if they harbor deep disagreements with the neighbor sitting next to them.

For Democrats, who seem genetically incapable of putting up a fight, bipartisanship is the perfect cover for preserving the current order. It's a lobbyist's wet dream. And with only days left in the '18 legislative session the Dems began to lay the groundwork for that to become their closing theme.

Heck, the cries of bipartisanship are so ubiquitous they should name a soup after it at the Capitol snack bar. While they're at it they should drop the tortilla burger from the menu because this is an all vegan session with no red meat on the table.

Take, for example, the triumphant bleating over a "bipartisan crime package" that passed the House on  a 66-1 vote. First, anything that passes by that margin is sure to lack any political protein. Let's get out the soup spoons and do a taste test:

The proposal would increase penalties for violent felons caught with firearms, provide retention bonuses to veteran police officers and reclassify certain nonviolent offenses.

That's it? That's what is supposed to begin putting a halt to an historic crime wave? Talk about thin gruel. Bonuses to retain officers is a nice morsel but its hardly earthshaking and hardly controversial which is why it flew through the House. Increasing penalties for violent felons is another no-brainer vote, even if you have the brains to realize it will have zero impact on crime. Ditto for "reclassifying certain nonviolent offenses?" Boy, the criminals are really shaking in their stolen cowboy boots over that.

But House Speaker Brian Egolf and House Minority Leader Nate Gentry unabashedly touted this as some kind of distinct change in crime fighting and even called it a "comprehensive framework that will keep out communities safe."

Only in Santa Fe's thin air could that definition of this skimpy crime package pass muster. And if the air didn't do the trick, you imagine lawmakers throwing down a couple of shots of Johnny Walker at the Bull Ring to convince themselves of the fantasy.

But what is quite sobering in Santa Fe is the alarming way in which Speaker Egolf has laid down his arms against Minority Leader Gentry, the guy whose hair you would think he would be mussing every morning in preparation for the '18 election.

Time and again it has been pointed out that Gentry's ABQ NE Heights district is vulnerable to a Dem challenge. You wonder what Natalie Figueroa thinks of these goings on as she weighs another run against Nate after a strong showing last time. But the Speaker apparently didn't get the memo:

When I started as speaker,” Egolf said, “I was disgusted by what I saw in D.C., and I was very disappointed in a lot of the politics I saw in New Mexico.” He said he wanted to help change that, and he has found an ally this session in Gentry, the Republican minority leader.

Change it to what end? To produce tepid crime packages that give Gentry political cover but little else? As a former state legislator said of this maneuvering:

Don’t worry, Nate! We Dems love having you here! We’ll do everything we can to make sure you stay! And so will the Journal! It’s all about Being There - and we’re all going to be there in Santa Fe 4ever!!

For seven years Governor Martinez and her Shadow Governor Jay McCleskey banned bipartisanship from the dictionary, waging a fierce political operation against the House Dems and ousting them from power for two years in the '14 election. Apparently the Speaker wasn't "disgusted over that" and is letting Gentry, a leader of that attack machine, off the hook and in fact rewarding his hyper-partisan activity.

As our former legislator said (wonder who that is?) in Santa Fe it has become all about "being there" and preserving the status quo. And that's really what "bipartisanship" is all about.

Not to belabor the point but the inanity of this bipartisanship play is just plain insulting to the intelligence. Look at what else they are extolling as bipartisan achievement:

Without a dissenting vote, the Senate and House passed a measure signing New Mexico on to a multistate compact allowing nurses licensed elsewhere to continue practicing here.

You mean there was some danger that dreaded "partisan politics" was going to thwart that piece of political pablum from passing unanimously?


Meantime, back in reality-based New Mexico, Jim Peach of NMSU, a charter member of our "No BS Economists" club, comes with this news that ought out to crack the Roundhouse walls but probably won't even penetrate them:

“We are now identifying what are those three to five critical areas that help turn the economy around,” he said. There would be costs in making the investments needed to change the structure of the state’s economy. Fully funding early childhood education, for example, would take tens of millions of dollars a year, advocates say. And that’s just the start. To really put new muscle in New Mexico’s economy, Peach said hundreds of millions of dollars in investment are needed.

You read that right. "Hundreds of millions in investment." Raise your hand if you think "bipartisanship" is going to free up that money and start to get this 50th in everything paradise turned around. Yep. No hands.

We have unanimous agreement here, Santa Fe.  Can you put that in a "bipartisan" package so we can all get to work?

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