State Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) tries his hand at false equivalency with his lame attempt to blame “both parties” for his inability to meet his goals during the last legislative session. Via The Eagle, Sen. Ogden rails ‘politics of ambition’.
State Sen. Steve Ogden, a powerful Bryan Republican, blasted both parties Wednesday and what he called “the politics of ambition” to explain failures of the last Texas Legislature.
Ogden told a group of some 350 at a luncheon in College Station that he had four goals for the session: To balance the budget and to fix school finance, the state’s business tax and Medicaid.
Only the first of the goals was accomplished, he said.
“Politics, more than I’ve ever seen it, dominated the last session,” said Ogden, a longtime legislator who served as chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
Those are some very ambitious and elitist remarks from such a wealthy state Senator. As has been noted before Ogden, (and much of the Texas media) likes to portray him, incorrect though it may be, as a fair arbiter of all things budget related in Texas. Ogden goes on to say this about why he failed to get three of his four goals accomplished.
Republicans carried a 19-to-12 majority in the Senate, but because bills needed 21 votes to get to the floor, Ogden said, Democrats often blocked the process.
Democrats “decided their best political strategy was not to play,” Ogden said. “They thought, ‘The budget was so tight and the decisions were so tough that maybe we ought to just blame the Republicans, and … always vote no.’” [Emphasis added]
A dynamic in play for incumbents from both parties was the fear of primary opponents. Compromise and moving to the center is increasingly dangerous when your mind is on fending off primary challenges, which tend to attract the party’s most liberal and conservative voters, Ogden said.
“Primary politics is beginning to divide your Legislature into the most liberal and the most conservative,” Ogden said, “and there’s not a lot of room, at least in the last session, for mediation.”
Ogden called the debate regarding the state’s Rainy Day Fund, a pool of around
$9 billion set aside for tough times, “pretty maddening.” The state spent $3.2 billion, and used accounting tricks to avoid using more of it, Ogden said.
“It became just sort of an article of faith that you can’t spend the Rainy Day Fund,” Ogden said. “We ended up spending [part of] it without admitting it. And I was telling one of my fellow senators, ‘This is all BS. This is just politics.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Well, that’s what we do.’”
Of course Ogden left quite a bit out of his speech. The highlighted part is completely false, and Ogden knows it. In particular the fact that he had two Democrats voting with him (and GOP state Sen. Dan Patrick against) on the budget in committee, and they would have stayed with him on the floor. Then the extreme right-wing GOP outside groups got to his party, Dewhurst flip-flopped on the rainy day money, Ogden “folded like a pair of deuces”, and the bipartisan agreement disintegrated. But in Ogden’s mind, the Democrats forced all of this because of the 2/3rds rule in the Senate?!
The fact that the GOP controls every branch of government in Texas and never seriously tried to compromise with Democrats on anything, beyond him in the Senate Finance Committee, means blame for what was or wasn’t accomplished last session lies solely with Ogden’s party – the GOP-led legislature in Texas.
Since the creation of the Economic Stabilization Fund, aka the Rainy Day Fund, that money was used in tough economic times. In fact that’s exactly why it was created to stabilize and unstable budget situation. The extremists on the right decided not this time, and caused the problems that Ogden is trying to falsely blame on both sides. The GOP holds all the power, the Democrats none, the GOP deserves all the blame, and nothing Ogden says will change that.