Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Call 911: Mary Lazich Overdoses on Herself

I have a list of about 20 things long that I want to write about, but State Senator Mary Lazich is the golden goose of Wisconsin politics. I detailed her career train wreck a few weeks ago in this post, but her actions over the past day deserve comment.

Lazich is attempting to resurrect her political career by posing as a fiscal conservative, and has vowed to vote against the state budget unless it cuts an additional $400 million. She thinks this message of fiscal conservatism will resonate with groups like Citizens for Responsible Government, who she admittedly lied to earlier this session (see previous column).

She apparently thinks she is outsmarting CRG by holding out on the budget, when in fact she is doing the exact opposite. This budget contains lower overall spending than the governor's, includes a property tax freeze, elimination of the social security benefits tax, and a lower gas tax (albeit only by one cent). By holding this budget up, she is holding up principles dear to conservatives, and harming her majority in the process.

Of course, conservatives like lower spending, but there are political realities. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate because they hold a few seats that skew mildly Democrat. Lazich, in an attempt to prove how much of a budget hawk she is, is selfishly asking senators like Cathy Stepp, Joe Leibham, and Ron Brown to vote for a budget that could cost them their seats, and therefore the GOP majority in the Senate.

The language from Lazich's e-mail to Charlie Sykes is astounding. The self-centeredness evident is breathtaking. She apparently thinks that somehow she is the only legislator that cares about levels of spending, after she voted for the bill in Joint Finance. She wants everyone to believe that any vote she takes at 6 AM can't be trusted. If she truly believes spending in this budget was too high, she had every opportunity to change it in committee. In fact, according to Wispolitics.com, she oversaw the part of the budget that increased the most, the Medicaid budget. General spending in this area had to increase to undo a lot of Doyle's budget tricks that would cause deficits in the future, even though total spending went down.

In the end, nobody is fooled by this charade and Republicans in the state will be worse off for it. As I stated in my previous column, Lazich could be Dead Senator Walking next year.

UPDATE: Clearly, nobody at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin was going to be confused for Stephen Hawking, but this bonheaded release takes the cake. They actually support Lazich for opposing the budget, thinking she has realized what a bad budget it is because it "cuts" so many programs. I quote:

"What has changed her mind? It’s clear that in the light of day, even Senator Lazich now sees the budget for what it really is. Not only does the Republican budget shortchange our public schools, it cuts our universities, spends millions on special interests, and earmarks millions in pork barrel projects to legislators."

Reading must be at a premium over there because Lazich wants to cut $400 million more out of the budget, and said so in the Journal-Sentinel article. As a result, Lazich's opposition could end up costing many of the programs the DPW holds dear.

This brings up an interesting phenomenon with liberals that I have noticed a lot during the Bush II years. If you're in a room full of liberals, if you say you don't like Bush because you don't think he's conservative enough, you gain some kind of begrudging respect, even though you are announcing the fact that you are ideologically further away from those people than even Bush is. But the important thing to them is that you like to criticize Bush, who they cannot stand. State Senator Mike Ellis has plugged into this phenomenon, gaining support from the state's most liberal papers for criticizing other Republicans, even though he couldn't be more ideologically different than the editors of the Capital Times.