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A Palin-esque Paterson?

July 14, 2010

Governor Paterson keeps insisting that lawmakers do what he says on the budget, but the lawmakers keep ignoring him, and he keeps ignoring the fact that they are ignoring him. 

Normally, a governor is loath to look ineffectual, and desperate to avoid situations where lawmakers defy him. Not Paterson. Take yesterday afternoon. He delivered a new revenue bill to the lawmakers. They quickly rejected it. The governor said it was “anathema” to him that the lawmakers wouldn’t accept his proposal. Paterson’s spokesman said it was “Albany dysfunction” at its worst. 

The Assembly then responded with a very precise, dispassionate statement on the respective roles of the Executive and Legislative branches: “The Governor is not constitutionally empowered unilaterally to restart or reconfigure the state budget process at this time.  Article VII §3 of the Constitution expressly precludes Executive submission of any additional or alternative budget bills without “the consent of the legislature…” 

The Senate replied: “We need a negotiated agreement to resolve the budget, not another un-negotiated press release.” 

Paterson and his people should be embarrassed by this exchange, but they are not. In fact, Paterson keeps creating situations where lawmakers simply blow him off.  He persists in disputing lawmakers on matters that speak to the fundamental separation of powers and he invites their contemptuous treatment of him. 

This is a very strange approach for Paterson, who served for more than 20 years in the state legislature and who was a legislative leader. Indeed, he came into office promising better legislative relations. 

It’s almost like Paterson is now channeling Sarah Palin, who is always posturing in opposition “the insiders and Washington types and all those hopey-changey people.” 

Palin doesn’t care that the “intelligentsia” ridicules her positions. She’s speaking to someone else – that not-insignificant percentage of the population that goes more by gut feeling than policy analysis. 

Is Paterson speaking to someone else with these actions?  If so, it’s not his fellow Dems.  It’s not the unions. It’s not people of color. It’s not the disadvantaged. In fact, to the extent that he keeps celebrating all the cuts and vetoes he’s made, he further distances himself from his base. 

To whom is Paterson trying to appeal? What does he get by promoting the dysfunction he decries?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 14, 2010 10:32 AM

    You might be overthinking it. Paterson just seems to be flailing away. No strategizing at all.

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