The LuLac Edition #869, July 6th, 2009
PHOTO INDEX: STATE CAPITOL BUILDING AND ROBERT McNAMERA WITH PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY, CIRCA 1962.
BUDGET WORK RESUMES
Pennsylvania state government enters its first full week without a general fund budget in place. Budget talks resume today. The Harrisburg Patriot reports that staffers for the four legislative caucuses were in and out of the Capitol on Sunday, checking numbers, reviewing some Department of Public Welfare issues and generally preparing for a long week. But any major moves toward resolution of a budget gap well in excess of $1 billion awaited the return of legislative leaders from the July 4 break. The impasse between Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and the Legislature has spilled into the new fiscal year, leaving the state with a sharply diminished ability to spend money, sign contracts and pay bills. Six other states Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Ohio, are working with delayed budgets and big deficits. In Pennsylvania, negotiators have not dealt with a $3.3 billion deficit left over from the just-ended fiscal year and they still disagree over how to solve an essentially identical problem in the coming year.
The fact that a budget is late is not a new thing in Harrisburg it's the seventh straight year for that, the product of a liberal, hard-charging Democratic governor trying to win over a Senate GOP majority dominated by conservatives. Rendell is proposing more than $2 billion in new taxes much of it from a 16-percent income tax increase saying his solution is less painful than cutting crucial programs and forcing counties and school districts to increase property taxes. He is also fighting for a big increase for public schools, saying that is the best way to guarantee a vibrant economic future in an aging state. This year's budget impasse is different from any in recent memory. The recession-wrought deficit is heftier and the partisan trenches seem deeper making it hard to envision a compromise. But they will eventually. They have to," said Barbara Hafer, a financial consultant who served eight years each as Pennsylvania's independently elected state treasurer and state auditor general. "This is a national and a world crisis. Look at the states around us. ... We aren't worse off than anybody else."
Robert McNamara, the cerebral secretary of defense who was vilified for prosecuting the Vietnam War, then devoted himself to helping the world's poorest nations. McNamara died at 5:30 a.m. at his home, his wife, Diana, told The Associated Press. She said he had been in failing health for some time. His death was first reported Monday by the Washington Post. For all his healing efforts, McNamara was fundamentally associated with the Vietnam War, "McNamara's war," the country's most disastrous foreign venture, the only American war to end in abject withdrawal rather than victory. Known as a policymaker with a fixation for statistical analysis, McNamara was recruited to run the Pentagon by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 from the presidency of the Ford Motor Co. He stayed seven years, longer than anyone since the job's creation in 1947. His association with Vietnam became intensely personal. Even his son, as a Stanford University student, protested against the war while his father was running it. At Harvard, McNamara once had to flee a student mob through underground utility tunnels. The great tragedy of McNamera was that even as he believed the war was unwinnable, he put on a public face of confidence that said otherwise. He continued to express public confidence that the application of enough American firepower would cause the Communists to make peace. In that period, the number of U.S. casualties dead, missing and wounded went from 7,466 to over 100,000. McNamara’s death is another benchmark in the divisive war that to this day haunts many Americans. Even as time goes on, the wounds of Vietnam are barely subsided and bubble to the surface when a reminder, like an overdue bill, comes due. The death of a high official like McNamera is one of those triggers that brings back the emotions of the Vietnam War. McNamera was 93.