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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cerberus Responds

Responding to my commentary today, Rep. Babbette Josephs - who I termed the Cerberus of the General Assembly - issued a news release defending her record, and attacking us, calling us a "right-wing, anti-consumer 'think tank'". Let me dissect the response:

  • "Right-Wing": I don't really know what "right wing" means, but we get called that a lot. I guess the "left wing" thinks that is a big insult that undermines our credibility, since the merits of our policy research is unassailable.

  • "Anti-Consumer": Being called "anti-consumer" seems bizarre. I suppose my metaphor of Cerberus started the name-calling, but I relied on humor and facts. The Commonwealth Foundation has recently called for for consumer choices in health care, liquor, and restaurants, lower prices for consumers through free trade and market prices in labor, and for no new and lower taxes on consumers. I think the words "government control over" were intended to be between "anti" and "consumers."

  • Campaign Finance: Yes, I testified against some proposed campaign finance restrictions; those were bad proposals. Obviously my arguments were persuasive. But I would like the other reforms in my commentary to get similar hearings (I don't endorse them all), and allow members (or citizens, in the case of Constitutional Amendments) to vote on them, rather than have them killed by committee chairs.

  • Lame-Duck: Rep. Joseph's response notes that they have moved a bill that would ban the lame duck session. Fair enough. Yet the fact that the version they moved (9 months after it was introduced) was not the one already passed by the Senate (10 months ago) might lead someone to believe they are stalling.

As for the other bills mentioned, labeled as "substantive legislation", here is the breakdown:

Substantive Reform, but watered down after numerous delays:

Somewhat Substantive Reform:

  • Prohibit the furlough of Commonwealth employees during budget delays.

Not Substantive Reforms:

  • Require General Assembly candidates and political committees to file a second campaign expense report prior to the election.
  • Include political robocalls under the state's Do Not Call list.
  • Prohibit state investments in countries that sponsor terrorism and genocide.
  • Change the date of Pennsylvania's presidential primary.

"reform" to delay Reform

  • Authorize a study of the state constitution.

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