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Fasten Your Seat Belts

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What happened yesterday to the Democrats is called a whupping, which my Webster's defines as (1) beat, thrash; (2) defeat convincingly.

No matter the level of government, no matter the office; the electorate tried its best to undo what it had done just two years ago: smack down the party in power.  Only then it was the Republicans whose turn it was to get whupped.

Thumbnail image for Betty Davis.jpgOn the state level, it was a GOP sweep.  They won the governor's office, will soon control the state House and Senate; won the majority of the congressional delegation; and, in Pat Toomey, elected a bona fide, to-the-right-of Rick Republican to the U.S. Senate.

Who are the biggest losers?

Oddly enough, it is the Republicans, especially the ones in Harrisburg.  They soon will control state government and the legislature, where a $4 billion to $5 billion deficit awaits them. Congratulations! It's all yours.

There is a cadre of Republicans who can't wait to take the axe to the state's $28 billion budget - and Governor-elect Tom Corbett sounds like one of them. In fact, judging from his victory speech, it sounded as if New Jersey's Chris Christie is channeling through Corbett.

I'm not so sure about the Republican leadership in the Senate, which seems to realize that if you are going to have a government you might have to actually pay for it.

Yesterday's results are good news for the beleaguered taxpayers out there who are mad as hell and won't take it anymore.  Alas, it is bad news if you happen to be poor, mentally ill, mentally retarded, have a child in a public school or a state-owned or related college, ride mass transit or drive a car.

In order to balance its budget - without any tax increases, which is Corbett's pledge - the state is going to have to stage a retreat from a number of basic programs.  See the graphic below to get a good idea of what is involved. I ran this graphic with a piece I did last week about the state budget. It's a list of the Top 20 most expensive programs in state government.  They total close to 78 percent of the total budget. They are likely to get whupped, too, in the coming months. They have to.  There are no other programs large enough to take a $4-$5 billion hit.

As to Philadelphia, we are screwed.

The city, which has a large portion of the state's poor and the state's largest school district, is dependent on state government aid in so many ways it's hard to enumerate. For the last eight years, we had the great and good luck of having a former Philadelphia mayor as governor. That era is officially over.

Now we have a conservative Republican from Allegheny County, who is a pleasant enough guy but who couldn't give two hoots about the city.  (Whose voters gave his rival, Democrat Dan Onorato, 82 percent of their votes on Tuesday.) On Tuesday, the city looked like a blue island in a suddenly red state.

We've been through tough times before in this city, so this is not new. That won't make it any easier to take.

As Bette Davis put it in All About Eve: "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night."

 

-- TF

 

 

Thumbnail image for Top 20.jpg 

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