You can be the judge regarding whether the term blackmail should be attributed to the actions of government officials in the following two stories.
The first story features local politicians in the City of Pittsburgh. As a little background, the City of Pittsburgh has been in state receivership for a number of years because city officials cannot control their spending. One of the biggest factors is their underfunded pension funds. Pittsburgh’s Democrat boy mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, has quite a scheme to raise taxes (it always seems to be about raising taxes) without really ticking off his constituents. He has decided to impose a one percent tax “tuition” tax on all students attending institutions of higher educations within city limits. His position is that they receive “services,” but do not pay anything towards them.
Needless to say college, art school, trade school, and even cooking school students did not take this sitting down. The leaders of the institutions were not too happy either and these folks wield some political clout. The story dominated local news and front pages of local papers. We all know that politicians do not like bad PR so Mayor Luke had to put his thinking cap on.
Being the nice guy he is, Luke gave the institutions an alternative. If the institutions “contributed” $5 million annually to Pittsburgh’s coffers, he and City Council would drop the tax talk. The institutions told him to shove it although they used nicer language. I would suggest that the institutions have their employees and student boycott local businesses for a month to show the City how much they “contribute” to the city.
The second story involves national politics and the man made global warming cabal. The Obama Administration desperately wants the Cap & Trade legislation passed. While the House passed a bill, the Senate version seems to be dead. The Natural Climate Change Deniers are an impatient lot with the Climategate scandal gaining notice around the world. Not in American as we are even behind Saudi Arabia who has called for an investigation.
The White House is not a patient place and made the decision to force the issue. They had EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that they were planning to designate carbon dioxide (yes the stuff we exhale) as a dangerous pollutant. In order to protect us from the gas we exhale, they would have to write new and extensive regulations to control the gas we exhale.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, “The EPA declaration would also ratchet up the pressure on U.S. lawmakers to pass legislation that analysts say would cut emissions in a more economically efficient way. Although the House has passed a climate bill, movement of similar legislation in the Senate has faced much more resistance and passage becomes more difficult in an election year.” The message from the White House seems clear that if Congress does not ruin the economy, the White House will.
My hope would be that Congress will give the same response that college leaders did in Pittsburgh…to shove it. I doubt that the Democrat-controlled legislature would do that just yet, but if Obama’s poll numbers keep coming down, who knows.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is the willingness of the legislature to aceed more and more power to the White House.
Update December 16, 2009:
The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb is quoting a Senate aid that White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, has threatened Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to force his support for the Obamacare Bill. Emanuel is known as a vicious political operative and the story from Goldfarb is that the White House threatened to place the Offut Air Force Base on the official closure list unless Nelson votes for the Democrat heath care takeover.
The United States Air Force base is home to The Strategic Command and was purposefully located in the middle of the country for security reasons. The base also employs around 10,000 military personnel and civilians. The Weekly Standard quotes the aid as describing Obama’s actions as a “naked effort by Rahm Emanuel and the White House to extort Nelson’s vote…threatening to close a base vital to national security for what?”
Glenn Beck reported that Nelson’s office has denied the story, but Beck also interviewed the author and he stands by his source. As you know that I hate the media, but I am more likely to believe the news story than the denial from Nelson’s office.
Maybe blackmail is too nice a term for these types of actions. How about extortion…allegedly?
I understand that Nelson may not want to out his Democrat president, but is it not time to stop the politics of Washington?
Is it not time to for elected officials to start actually representing their constituents?