What Should We Throw in the Bay?
So I’m at the Tea Party event hosted by the Portsmouth Republicans. So far, Steve Coaty and Mayor Laffey have spoken. (Unfortunately, I didn’t get set up in time to catch some of Laffey’s pithy phrases, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing them around the state over the next few years.)
The striking thing — at least for a guy whose involvement is mainly via Democrat-run municipal meetings and while sitting in my basement office at the computer — is how clearly the core problems facing the state are understood. (Really, how many different examples do we have to pile on the list?)
The problem is that a sizable segment of the people who understand those problems are in this room. There’s a fair crowd, but the space is small. (I will note, by the way, that I’m thankful that not everybody put on their complementary flashing elephant pins. This time on a Thursday night, I don’t know if I could take it.)
In case you’re wondering, the pith of the discussion is that spending is out of control, taxpayers can’t afford increases in taxes, we need to get outraged, people need to run for office as Republicans, and others need to get involved with and contribute to the party (or get involved in other ways).
ADDENDUM II (7:50 p.m.)
And in walks the governor (with Gio Cicione)…
“We’re at a key, key point.”
“Right now, RI’s tax burden… ranks sixth highest in the country.”
We’ve used up the money we’ve inherited from our rich uncle (“somebody called the tobacco settlement”).
Three things we’ve got to do (aka “what’s in this budget”):
1. Reduce spending by bringing public sector benefits into line with the private sector and making government more efficient.
2. Reduce handouts, but protect the safety net. “We’ve got people who are dependent on the state, and we can’t abandon them.”
3. Reduce aid to cities and towns. (“Out of $1.1 billion, I’ve reduced just $42 million.”) In response to the complaint that he took one budget problem and made it 39: “That’s exactly right.” They’ve got the same problems. “We need, at the city and town level, to do the same thing” as at the state level.
ADDENDUM III (8:11p.m.)
A bit of advice from a novice in the audience: keep the speeches down. These things should be held in every town — and often — but they really have to be more interactive. Save the lectures; we all agree; we’ve all heard our leaders speak. Mayor Laffey seems to be the only guy who gets the logistics of stoking political flames. Here is what happened to his emotional momentum after the speeches (and I think he mirrors the crowd):
ADDENDUM IV (8:21p.m.)
Now we’re having a heart-to-heart seminar on ensuring proper nursing care as we age.
Did I mention that we’ve got to get fired up, run for office, donate to candidates, and discuss death-related personal financial planning with strangers into the night?
ADDENDUM V (35 minutes until Lost starts):
The governor and Bob Watson have drifted away from a great question/suggestion from the audience to put together a Republican-reaction network that can get people on the phone and to the statehouse to counteract similar activities from special interests.
ADDENDUM VI (8:30 p.m.):
The governor is gone. The audience is following. (Did I mention that Lost starts soon?) While answering a question about illegal immigration, Mayor Laffey is offering to help any candidate who wants to run for office as a Republican. That’s what we needed two hours of: not specifically Mayor Laffey, but suggestions, offers, and encouragements for involvement. Laffey’s closing line: “Do something!”