Thursday, January 08, 2009

Obesity Epidemic in Government

Governor Paterson's speech on the "perilous" state of the state's finances was woefully short on remedies needed to rein in state spending and cut back on the size of government. As the NY Post points out this morning: "Gov. Paterson yesterday delivered his first State of the State Address - a rightly gloomy report that offered scant grounds to think he's on the correct track to making things right. "The state of our state is perilous," Paterson warned. New York faces its "gravest" challenge "in nearly a century." No argument here. Thing is, Paterson has said this before. And nowhere in his 63-minute speech did he suggest what to do about it."

What the governor did do, was to spend more time lamenting the state of children's waste lines than the waste that needs to be trimmed from the state's budget: "Rather, he rambled on about what he termed an "epidemic" of childhood obesity - scarcely noting that New York's fundamental problem is its scandalously obese government. Even in the best of times, the state spends more than it can afford, and often even more than it collects. But these aren't the best of times."

The NY Daily News agrees: "The governor who stood before the Legislature yesterday was once more steadily forthright about the state's dire straits. But the governor who has so willingly challenged lawmakers to make hard and unavoidable decisions was not in attendance."

Fred Dicker is even harsher in his assessment of the speech's shortcomings: "Gov. Pater son squandered an opportunity to confront New York's fiscal problems yesterday in a rambling, thin and cliché-ridden State of the State Address that failed to recognize that the crisis represents a rare opportunity for sweeping change...But when it came to addressing the root causes of the state's problems - the most expensive health-care system in America, more education spending per pupil than any other state, and a bloated and overpaid local and state government workforce - there was nary a word."

And Dicker criticizes the governor for spending so much time on the obesity issue, something that is tangential at best to what's ailing the state's fiscal situation: "About the only real passion came when he delivered an attack on childhood obesity, a serious problem, but not one at the core of the state's disintegrating economy."

This left an opening for the state senate's former majority leader to weigh in-laying the groundwork for a potential Republican comeback. As the NY Times reports: "Asked if there was anything in the address that concerned him, Mr. Skelos replied, somewhat archly, “I learned an awful lot about child obesity in the governor’s speech.” He also said that Mr. Paterson — who has devoted a majority of his public statements in recent months to the state’s fiscal crisis — had missed an opportunity to “maybe rally the Legislature a little bit more,” as well as the public at large, about the state’s budget problems."

Sp there's a great deal of work that needs to be done; but the open question is whether David Paterson's the right person to lead us in these challenging times. Dicker gets the last word here: "Now that he is gearing up to run for governor on his own next year, Paterson has ditched his pledge to reform government and chosen instead to borrow the warmed-over policies of his mediocre predecessors, who sought to hang on to power no matter the cost to the public, or the damage to New York."