Politicians being politicians

Here are a few items about politicians being politicians. One will not surprise you. The other two might.

The one that will not surprise you is about Nancy Pelosi and Obamacare. Ever since Obamacare arrived thousands have brought notes from home asking to be exempt. Companies, churches, unions, local governments, restaurants. They all say “Pity us. This provision in Obamacare is too much for us. Exempt us, please.”

So Washington has been granting thousands of exemptions. Last month it granted another couple hundred.

An odd thing happened with these exemptions. Twenty percent of them were for outfits in a single congressional district. Nancy’s. Golleee gee whiz, what a gol’ darn co-incidence, huh? We have 435 districts. Out of all those, one district gets 20 percent of the exemptions.

You might mumble that this is par for the course. Politicians will be politicians, will ferret out special favors for their own, etc. However, two more items in the news might surprise the cynical.

One is that New York’s Governor Cuomo is planning some big reforms. He is tackling, for instance, pensions for state, local and school employees. They are far too generous, he complains. These are big reforms. They will save billions. They will force workers to work more years and contribute more to their pension funds. They will curtail the practice of “padding” pensions through maneuvers with overtime.

What is interesting is that Cuomo the Democrat is doing this to some of his biggest supporters.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, new Mayor Emanuel ordered a bunch of job and salary cuts for city managers. We will wait to see if this is a smokescreen or a serious effort.

My point is that sometimes the guys most likely to reform things are the ones you might expect to do the opposite. For instance, most would not expect Cuomo to tackle the public service workers and their union. Not after accepting so much campaign money from them.

He can introduce reforms their enemies cannot. If he was Republican they would fight him. Media would play up their fight. But being Democrat he can prescribe the medicine. They are much more likely to accept it from him.

This phenomenon occurs from time to time in government. All eyes will be on, say, a conservative to reform some liberal mess. Instead, a flaming liberal will.

Years ago New Zealand transformed itself from a semi-socialist state to the opposite. It abandoned the socialism. It sold off government entities, dumped 40 percent of government workers. It privatized the post office. It hoisted the old economic system by its heels and shook it ‘til hundreds of socialist bits tumbled from its pockets. It morphed itself into one of the least-socialist economies on earth.

The reformer? A left-wing Labour Party guy. Only a guy from the left could get away with it. When conservatives suggested dumping socialism, the left rushed to the ramparts. When one of their own ran up the white flag, they finally admitted their system was un-fixable. They saluted.

Next time you read about some mess in Washington and you figure nobody can reform it, you may be right. On the other hand…when, and from where you least expect it…

As jazzman Fats Waller said “One never knows, do one?”   

From Tom ... as in Morgan.                  

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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