Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"A government of laws and not of men"--not in Delaware under the Markell administration

Two items from today's WNJ prove John Adams' point.

First, we find that when Governor Markell wants something, the niceties of existing regulation or the traditional independence of regulators is not to be allowed to stand in his way.

Governor Markell wants an Alabama corporation to build a rehabilitation hospital in Middletown.  This may or may not be a good thing, a needed thing--I simply do not know.  But what I do know is that the administration's approach should be setting off alarms all over the place.

First, he replaced Delaware Health Resources Board members who did not share his views in the middle of the process of considering the certificate review for the hospital.  Much of the rest of the board resigned in protest.

Then, the Governor prevailed upon pet legislator Quinn Johnson of Middletown to introduce legislation specifically exempting ONLY "rehabilitation hospitals" from certification review.

There are two takeaways here:

1.  This behavior is consistent with the Markell administration approach to most issues, from Fisker to public education--if the law is inconvenient, side-step it, safe in the knowledge that Democratic majorities in both houses of the General Assembly will never hold you accountable.

2.  This incident also gives us an insight into what would happen with a statewide healthcare board, as proposed by Reps. Kowalko, Jaques, and Baumbach if stand-alone single-payer ever passed in Delaware.  The chicanery being exhibited puts insurance companies to shame.

Then, secondly, we have the Markell administration continuing to speak out of both sides of its mouth with regard to cuts in state education funding.  This time it is about pre-school funding:

While a new report says Delaware is cutting back on its public preschool programs, state officials say the findings don’t take notice of the millions of dollars invested to improve and expand access to privately-run programs. 
The evaluation, issued Monday by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, says the state spent $217 less on each child in the last school year versus the prior year.
Let's get this straight: the philosophy of the Markell administration has been to invest in private pre-school programs rather than public ones?

As a libertarian I'm all in favor of free enterprise, but not in favor of the State picking winners and losers among the businesses providing such services, such as with the $22 million "invested" in the Five Stars program to funnel business toward specific private care providers, or the $50 million in a "competitive" grant that nobody bothers to explain.

When we examine the similarities of this response to the ones generated by the Markell administration with respect to the cuts in public education funding that they insist are not there (except in documents not meant for the public), we discover the same pattern:  don't bother us because we know what we are doing.

The problem here is that a representative democracy is supposed to work on the concept of checks and balances.  The General Assembly is supposed to provide a balance to the Executive by using both the power of the purse and the power of legislation to curb administrative excess.

What we have now, however, are large Democratic majorities that simply rubber-stamp whatever the Governor wants, and obligingly changes any laws that might be pesky enough to get in his way.

A credible opposition party could at least bring attention to these practices, but a credible opposition party is exactly what the Delaware GOP is not.

5 comments:

Nancy Willing said...

Excellent post, Steve.

NCSDad said...

Steve is the rare combination of engaged and detached.
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/opinion/brooks-engaged-or-detached.xml
Nice job.

Delaware Watch said...

Could you flesh this out a bit more? I don't get the analogy."This incident also gives us an insight into what would happen with a statewide healthcare board, as proposed by Reps. Kowalko, Jaques, and Baumbach if stand-alone single-payer ever passed in Delaware. The chicanery being exhibited puts insurance companies to shame."

Steve Newton said...

Dana,

Pretty simple: the Governor did not like what the Delaware Health Resources Board was doing because he personally wanted to do something else. So he threw off the members who disagreed with him, and created a situation in which others resigned.

As with any board of political appointees, the possibilities for political influence are endless.

Suppose the board under Kowalko's bill decides that we don't need a new children's hospital in Milford, but the politicians do? This is an example of what happens.

Or else they simply pass a supplementary law taking control of "children's hospitals" or even control of, say, lasix procedures away from the board because they have been successfully lobbied to do so.

The beauty of this argument is that you can't say I'm making up a ridiculous situation because we are watching it unfold.

Delaware Watch said...

Ah, get it now. The possibility of that happening seems far less scandalous and destructive than the ongoing scandal and financial destruction of multiple thousands of Delawareans living with inadequate health insurance or no health insurance at all.