Monday, March 2, 2009

The Quick Fix Is In

President Barack Obama announced another member of his 2nd string today by tapping Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Pro-life groups have already come out of the wood work protesting her record on abortion. While that may be an issue of concern, it is not while I’m concerned about her nomination.

The state of Kansas made headlines in the middle of February by announcing they were stopping the distribution of tax rebate checks. This announcement was the result of an impasse between Democrat Governor Sebelius and the Kansas legislature where Republicans control both houses.

While the rebate checks became the polarizing issue, the state was also worried about whether or not they would be able to meet state employee payroll and Medicaid payments. In 2008, the state borrowed $550 million dollars from itself - $300 million in the summer and $250 million in December. Republican lawmakers are worried that if they continue to move monies between accounts – basically borrowing from Paul to pay Peter if the economy improves – that the other agencies may go broke or that they just may not be able to pay themselves back when the bills comes due.

Governor Sebelius was at odds with this strategy. She just wanted to borrow some more.

Republicans offered up a new budget slashing $300 million but Sebelius refused to sign it into law. The Governor issued this statement about the stalemate,
"Through their refusal to act today, the Republican legislative leadership is jeopardizing our citizens' pocketbooks for no other reason than to play political games — games in which the only ones set to lose are Kansas families, workers and schools.”

Yada yada yada.

So what does this have to do with her nomination to the post of Health and Human Services? Upon her confirmation, Sebelius will have a bigger budget to play with. With the country in a recession, if not depression, the Obama administration has nominated someone to a Cabinet position that seems to have absolutely no idea how to work within a budget.

A lot of this back and forth is simply long-term versus short-term impact on the economy. The Republicans in the Kansas legislature were trying to take a long-term approach to their budget woes, while Governor Sebelius seemed to want a quick fix.

The nomination of Governor Sebelius to Obama’s cabinet puts someone forward that may not be thinking of long term solutions, but is looking only to improve the health care in this country on a temporary basis.

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