To Governor John Carney on Inaguration Day — You Have Work to Do

Today, John Carney and Bethany Hall-Long are sworn in as Delaware’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor.  This inauguration doesn’t have the same feeling of excitement and possibility as the swearing in of Jack Markell — and in hindsight, I think that many of us would agree that Governor Markell left a good bit of possibility on the table.  Some of that was circumstances — the crisis of the economic downturn whose effects still linger — and some just policy that made little sense.

But I’m not here to rehash that.  We already know that Carney is not especially progressive on much except social issues.  And we know that the biggest problems facing us now require some progressive rethinking of the tired toolbox typically used here to address fiscal problems.  A couple of weeks ago, the NJ reported on a meeting that Carney had with the Eastern Sussex Democratic Club.

The good news is that a former President of the organization, Mr. Peter Schott, gets this:

Former president of the club Peter Schott said his great hope for Carney’s leadership is to balance the Delaware budget, and to make sure high-income citizens pay their dues.

“We need infrastructure improvement,” Schott said. “There are too many developers building and adding nothing to the infrastructure, and we have too many people with high incomes that are not being taxed heavily enough.”

What I’ve been thinking about is this exchange:

“You need to tell us, what should we do?” club President Lisa Haupt said. “What do you think we should be doing?”

Carney, while lamenting the hacking of the Democratic National Convention, of which he was a target, and the rise of fake news, urged his fellow party members that the best option is to work together.

“I know there’s a lot of anxiety, and I understand the anxiety,” Carney said. “But we need to work across the aisle, we need to work together to make for a Delaware that we, whether on the right or left, are happy to live in. Things may be hard, and we might not agree with everything the new administration and Congress do, but if we keep doing the right thing, we’re going to be alright.”

This is a straight out of the John Carney playbook answer and if I was there I would want to ask him this:  What counts as the right thing?

Without some Statement of Principles here, this sounds noble, but is largely meaningless.  Delawareans have been living with a government that is codifying the freedoms of more of us but has been shifting the costs of government to middle class and working class people — away from its corporate and wealthier citizens.  I want to know if that counts as “doing the right thing”?

We’re in the cost-shifting business because that is what bipartisanship gets you.  Instead of clearly making sure that taxpayers know year after year that we need to increase the fees and taxes on the folks who can least afford it because this is the only way the GOP buys in.  And we are represented by a crew of Democrats who simply won’t stand up for better — even as they talk about workforce housing and “low-income, and oftentimes minority, neighborhoods”.

The current financial crisis should be an opportunity to rebalance some of the scales in a way that starts to build in some fairness to Delaware’s budgets.  Raise taxes on those who can better afford it.  Get a statewide property reassessment done and let counties decide whether they want the additional revenues.  Implement a plan to house all of Delaware’s homeless.  Figure out how to support Delaware’s social entrepreneurs as well as you try to support other entrepreneurs.  Make the right investments into high-poverty schools so we can stop fighting over school failures.  Make this stuff as a high a priority as beach replenishment is.  This is what “doing the right thing” looks like to me.  Take back the agenda and start helping the Delawareans who need it the most — and certainly stop asking ONLY middle class, working class and State employees to pony up the funds to run the government that we all seem to want.

Old school Democratic leadership is what is needed here.  Do that, and you start re-energizing Delaware and Delaware’s Democratic party.

You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. -- Shirley Chisolm

12 comments on “To Governor John Carney on Inaguration Day — You Have Work to Do

  1. Delawareans have been living with a government that is codifying the freedoms of more of us but has been shifting the costs of government to middle class and working class people — away from its corporate and wealthier citizens.

    This is the best distillation of the problem facing Democrats in Delaware. Thanks for the former, but frack you for the latter.

  2. Great post Cassandra. Every single Democratic elected official in this state needs to read it.

  3. More bi-partisan talk? How’d that work out for us?

    This “work across the aisle” mantra only works if everyone benefits from the work. I get that he’s trying to sound like a governor for the entire state, but if it’s majority appeal then I’d suggest he focus on the actual majority of Delaware residents.

    More of this watered down, “bi-partisan” talk without good, solid results will put a Republican in the Govenor’s seat next time around. This is how the GOP does it. They draw Dems away from popular Dem policies in the name of working together and then use the lackluster results to run (and win) elections against us.

    It’s time to stop helping the GOP get elected, because, as we’ve seen, they have no trouble ditching bi-partisanship once they get into office. Is this really that difficult for certain Dems to see? Must I put Lucy and the football on a continuous loop?

    Here’s the deal. Go big. If the protests surrounding the repeal of the ACA are anything to go by then we have nothing to lose.

    • cassandram

      I don’t mind “bi-partisan”, it is just that all too often it is used as a way to get something done that all too often simply isn’t fair. If you are working with people whose clear principles are that rich people should not pay taxes, why accommodate that? Go Big, is the right advice. Get the big stuff out of the way early and work at recovering the political capital. I’m thinking that the GOP is looking at the entire D caucus and seeing alot of folks in a defensive crouch. Ripe Targets.

      • HyperbolicDem

        I agree that bi-partisanship is not taboo concept. Lets face it, in Delaware we have many D’s who are further right than many R’s. Just look at the legislators south of the canal compared to those north of it. Even Joe Miro looks liberal in Sussex. However, the “reach across the aisle” phrase is worn and meaningless now. The new phrase should be “put partisanship aside and find reasonable solutions.” I don’t think Carney is a going to do big, flashy things. That’s not his personality. He’s a political nerd (not a bad thing). He will focus on infrastructure, economic development, restructuring of government, and all the un-sexy stuff that has not been touched in the last decade. I don’t think he’ll be the most interesting governor, but I do think his intentions are good and genuine and that we need a political nerd right now, just like the County has Matt Meyer. It’s time to focus on the mundane so that we have the foundation to do the Great Society stuff again.

        That being said, he seriously needs to “legalize it.” It benefits everyone.

        • cassandram

          “Put partisanship aside and find reasonable solutions” is a smarter formulation, because it does not cede control of policy, values or process. But on the other hand, Governor Carney gave a shoutout to Colin Bonnini with his “we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem” BS. I wish I thought that John Carney would work on the un-sexy nuts and bolts stuff. Because that is where the fairness starts — as in a property reassessment. Or figuring out how to stop raising revenues from the people who can least afford it and who are paying the bills now. Matt Meyer may be a nerd, but he is also focused on openess and getting the county’s business done smartly.

          Voters are frustrated and mad. Democrats need to demonstrate why they deserve to be in government. And I think that we are all too often making the sale here based on the people we know rather than in how we can make lives better.

          • HyperbolicDem

            I think property reassessment will be on the table. The state is going to offload some of the burden for services to the counties (e.g., Prothonotary, prisons, roads, education), without the ability to create their own new revenue streams. Reassessment is the only option, besides an across the board massive property tax hike.

  4. Frank Sims

    An empty vessel rings hollow.

    • cassandram

      We’ll see, I think, as he responds to the Markell budget.

      • The Markell budget is a absolute joke. Give to the rich, cut state programs that hurt the poor, middle class and elderly and pass other costs that effect the same groups back to the counties. If the do not fund them the program is gone and if they do fund them the county has to raise the taxes.
        Markell has lied and mis lead people with numbers and statistics his whole career. Just another Delaware Good Old Boy and Carney is part of the same group, to moderate and business persons come first.

  5. Truly, some amazing “leadership” Carney looks ready to implement. “Do the right thing, everybody. Bipartisanship… it will be okay…’ OMG.

  6. JasonScott

    Still banned? 🙁 In moderation?

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