Liddick: ‘The Count’ in 2010
Okay, ready or not, election season is on us again.
Yes, although the polls are almost a year away, the jockeying for position and favor has already begun; the State House, U.S. House of Representatives, governorship and a senate seat are all on the table. Given the impending Donnybrook, I’d like to nominate a consensus candidate for Governor of Colorado: The Count.
Look, he’s got good name recognition. Everyone is familiar with the dapper little bat-winged fuzzball from Sesame Street – he of the monocle, the cheesy Bella Lugosi accent and the mania for numbers. He’s got impeccable manners, no apparent addictions or bad habits, and he can, well … count.
He’s unlikely to mistake 600 million or 320 million or 99 million for zero, something with which our present governor has trouble, judging from his repeated assertions that our budget has been “balanced.” He knows that if you promise no tax increases, your projected revenues should not rise by over a billion dollars in a recession, whether you call the new money “fees” or not. Zero does not equal a billion.
And he knows that 2,300 isn’t zero either – that being the number of state employees hired under Governor Ritter, who promised last year to “freeze” state hiring. Conventionally, “freeze” means “zero hires.” At least to most people.
True, there is the possibility that in Ritterworld, “freeze” means “no hiring except when I really, really want to.” In that case, perhaps another of the Sesame Street gang would be a better fit – preferably one like Big Bird, who speaks standard English.
Or perhaps The Count should hold off for another year and run for higher office. After all, the president does seem to have more than a little trouble doing his sums.
He did tell us that spending $780 billion we didn’t have would insure that unemployment would not rise above 8 percent. Alas, 8 is not 10.2. The Count knows that. He also knows that if you announce 640,000 jobs were “created or saved” as a result of your efforts, you mean 640,000, not half that number. Or two-thirds. Or some other number. He could figure out pretty quickly that a 40-hour-a-week, year-round permanent job and a 24-hour-a-week, two-week-long job were not the same, and would not try to fob the latter off as the former. And I trust The Count would not consider raises given to administrators as “jobs” in the first place. Plus, if anyone working for him was unclear about the above, The Count could quickly set him straight
The Count would not promise 150 million H1N1 vaccines, deliver 10 million, and wonder what all the fuss was about. He wouldn’t promise 15 million taxpayers between $400 and $800, but end up taking $250 from them instead. The Count knows the difference between addition and subtraction; the current president seems a bit fuzzy on these concepts.
Speaking of addition and subtraction, I doubt The Count would agree to raise Medicare payroll taxes 10 percent if he had promised “not to raise taxes on the middle class.” Ten percent doesn’t equal zero.
Nor would he view a bill as “revenue neutral” (that means income equals outgo, for the bureaucratese challenged) if tax collections started three years before benefits were given. Seven doesn’t equal ten. And if he began counting for ten years from the year the benefits started, he wouldn’t tell you that the bill was going to cost $800 million if the figure was actually $1.5 trillion. The Count knows these two sums are different.
He could also tell you that there are five Congressional districts in Iowa, not the eight that the federal government reported as receiving economic stimulus funds. And that Puerto Rico has one district, not three.
Of course there is the possibility that, as in the case of our governor, these discrepancies between fact and rhetoric do not lie in some form of discalcula, but rather in the world of words. Perhaps the tactical theory is that if happy falsehoods are forcefully advocated enough times by a popular president, people will be lulled – or mentally bludgeoned – into a sense of trust, and simply neglect to do the math.
It worked before, with TARP. It was working with the Spendulus bill, but now pencils seem to be a little sharper, and the mistakes discovered are proliferating. The suspicious squint is more widespread and smooth talk doesn’t go a far as it once did. Or perhaps the disconnect between promise and reality is simply becoming unavoidably obvious. Whatever the reason, there’s a perfect response.
Let’s elect The Count.
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