Aug 14, 2011

The Week in Review

Jerome Block Jr.
Public Regulatory Commissioner Jerome Block continued to dominate the news pages in New Mexico this week. The string of news stories spelling out all of the dubious behaviors of Block led to a no-confidence vote from his fellow commissioners on Thursday. This followed calls from dozens of people on both sides of the aisle for his resignation. Block is a perfect example of why evaluating candidates carefully is important. Block pockets $90,000 a year from the taxpayers not to mention being reimbursed for untold amounts of “expenses” he believes he deserves. It appears the legislature will consider Block’s impeachment soon. Our stroll through the Sunday morning talk show circuit was revealing within a matter of minutes last week. While reviewing the videos of the talking heads it soon became obvious that the new phrase, “Tea Party Downgrade” would be the Democrat’s pat explanation for why Standard and Poors decided to reduce the U.S. credit rating. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky quickly responded to the phrase by likening the blaming of the tea parties for the debt downgrade to the idea of pointing the finger at the firemen when they show up at your house to put a fire out. Since our family home burned down ten years ago, and firemen bravely did what they could to keep the terrible night from being a total loss, we made it a point to never blame emergency personnel for providing assistance to us.
On Monday the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than three hundred points in early trading. Then President Obama decided he should make a speech to calm the markets before heading off for a vacation at Martha’s Vineyard. After again reassuring the 51% of American households that don’t pay any federal income taxes that he would continue to fight so they won’t have to bear burdens caused by the 49% who do pay taxes (but don’t pay their fair share), the markets plunged another 300 points. The proverbial phrase “enough said” seems to apply here.
Nearly one third of all letters sent to foreign nationals who were issued driver’s licenses in New Mexico were returned with the explanation “address unknown.” It is the strongest indication yet that there has been widespread fraud associated with New Mexico’s policy of providing the appearance of legitimacy to those in the state illegally. One can only wonder how many voted.
It seems that the University of New Mexico will pay a “consulting” firm to assist in the search for a new president. Many citizens ask why? The answer seems to be, “Because that is what we always do.” Common sense suggests thousands of applicants could be attracted by running a few simple ads. Faculty committees, volunteer community leaders, and regents could go over the applications. Yet somehow consultants can continue to convince university decision-makers only consultants can add the required "value" to the process by inserting a necessary search pacifier. Apparently these consultants will perform their services before “others” make the final call on the new prez. The cost to New Mexico taxpayers for the consulting firm’s debatable contribution to the process is $130,000.
It seems that just about everyone receiving health care in New Mexico makes a co-payment in these transactions. Everyone that is, except those who do not pay for their services at all. In New Mexico people living as far as 235% above the federal poverty level still qualify for Medicaid and do not make a co-pay. And that gap (the one between 100% and 235%) is by definition, the actual dollar value of the disincentive that New Mexico employs to discourage working and/or improving job skills. Until our citizens move far beyond incomes that are 235% of the federal poverty level, the act of "working" to earn more will continue to be punished in this state instead of rewarded. Government has not yet decided that people are not dumb and they can run their calculators. Maybe someday.

Miguel Garcia
Representatives Andy Nunez, Alonzo Baldonado, and Governor Susana Martinez each appeared as our guests on News New Mexico this week. And each chuckled when we played a clip of Rep. Miguel Garcia saying that efforts to reform our driver’s license issuance laws were “divisive." Polls clearly indicate that as many as three out of four New Mexicans favor the reforms promoted by Susana Martinez, John Sanchez, and Dianna Duran (among others). Apparently it is getting very frustrating for Rep. Garcia and most Senate Democrats who find themselves completely unsuccessful in characterizing this particular dispute as a divisive, “Hispanics versus Anglos” show down. After hearing from Nunez, Baldonado, and the Governor this week, we realized Rep. Miguel Garcia only wishes this were a divisive issue.

Bill Richardson
And finally, the remnants of the Richardson legacy are lingering. Current HHS Secretary Sidney Squier was making the rounds in New Mexico gathering input on Medicaid reforms this week. On Wednesday she announced that sloppy accounting in the HHS department including under-reporting and over-billing during the Richardson administration, has revealed an additional $100 million shortfall in the Medicaid budget. Senator John Arthur Smith told the Albuquerque Journal the Medicaid deficit will eat up a substantial portion of the state tax revenues coming in ahead of projections in the spring. When it rains it pours.

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