It’s time to make a difference in Delaware (Whipple)

October 1, 2014
The Conservative Caucus of DE newsletter

It’s time to make a difference in Delaware

The Conservative Caucus of Delaware has a solid message, but are we selling it? Not only does the Democratic Party have a commanding state registration edge over the Republican Party, which traditionally has been viewed as the conservative party, but many Republican leaders don’t seem all that conservative anyway.

Thus, proposals to expand the size and reach of state and local government have often sailed through with only token opposition, as for example de facto taxes that have been imposed on fossil fuel energy to support subsidies for “renewable” energy.

And while everyone claims to support economic liberty and free enterprise (e.g., the governor has called himself “a card carrying capitalist”), the rhetoric is often not backed up in practice. Many business people in Delaware complain of burdensome regulatory requirements that unnecessarily slow the wheels of progress and make doing business in the First State more expensive than it needs to be.

Keeping Delaware’s operating budget balanced has been a struggle because spending demands are growing faster than the state economy and there is continuing pressure to raise existing taxes and/or impose new levies. The Medicaid program (about half of which is paid for by the state) looks to be unsustainable, and the test scores for Delaware students are anemic vis-à-vis the state and local funding provided for public schools.

Also, Delaware pensions are underfunded by an amount that may (depending on return assumptions) dwarf the state’s annual budget. Delaware’s public employees’ retirement system, Eileen Norcross, Mercatus Center, 2/5/13.

. . . when valuing Delaware’s pension plans on a fair-market basis—that is, as a government-guaranteed benefit based on a 2.03 percent US Treasury bond yield—the average funding ratio for Delaware’s plans drops to 40 percent and the unfunded liability rises to $11 billion. This amount is several times larger than Delaware’s total outstanding general obligation debt, reported at $1.62 billion in FY 2013, and the state’s current budget of $3.58 billion.

Without attempting to offer specific policy changes in this column, it would seem fair to say the outlook for the state can’t be significantly improved without some attitude adjustments. More support for individual choice and free enterprise – less reliance on government regulation to impose preconceived ideas on the residents of the state. Explaining the real budget outlook versus attempting to reassure the public by leaving out uncomfortable truths – pressing to eliminate wasteful spending instead of routinely perpetuating government programs and policies.

Such changes would produce a lot of pushback, and they couldn’t be made without powerful and sustained pressure from the general public. It may seem farfetched to even imagine such pressure being mobilized. Study: You have “near-zero” impact on US policy, Wynton Hall, breitbart.com, 8/12/14.

A startling new political science study concludes that corporate interests and mega wealthy individuals control US policy to such a degree that "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

Indeed, many people act as though they don’t have the time or inclination to get involved in the debate (and others support ideas that would make things worse), but keep this in mind. The minute conservatives say “it can’t be done,” the ultimate triumph of our intellectual opponents is assured – and that would not bode well for the future of this state (or by extension the nation).

Make no mistake, “ordinary people” can move mountains if they make up their minds to do it. The point was demonstrated during the American Revolution, and a group of gun rights activists in Colorado recently showed that it still holds true. Colorado voters deal blow to gun control with stunning recall of 2 Democrats [in Colorado’s first-ever legislative election despite a 7-1 spending advantage by gun control proponents], Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, 9/10/13.

The ousted legislators complained of voter confusion, but the truth was quite different. “Self government won. Demagoguery lost.” And it was local citizens who got the ball rolling, not GOP establishment types. The epic meltdown of the gun-grabbers, Michelle Malkin, Human Events, 9/13/13.

Could something like this happen in Delaware, say about economic and fiscal issues rather than guns? Who knows, but it would be interesting to see what happened if someone gave it a try.

Bill Whipple
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