Fighting over the cuts

February 22, 2011 2:00:01 PM PST
The era of civility didn't last long. The shooting rampage in Tucson brought with it a honeymoon phase for pols to be nice to each other.

That's gone. Big time.

Is it right for one party not to show up at work because they think they'll lose the legislative vote over budget cuts? I understand the protest nature of it all. But when people elect representatives who pledge to cut the dickens out of the budget, what else can we expect but for them to try to do that?

The outpouring of protests over budget cuts is a great story, and certainly shows the passion of those who are fighting to salvage public programs that help people.

But if Americans elect peeps because they agree that government spending should be cut, then what exactly is the argument against trying it? That we might have unemployment that reaches 9 to 10 percent? That the jobs that are created are predominately at fast-food-chain wages?

If your family's budget was as out of whack as the government's, chances are you'd go through the money you spend and start hacking. Chances are you've already done that.

Where things get ugly is when the spending hurts people who depend on government programs for food and housing. Or when some elected official suddenly decides unions should no longer be allowed to bargain collectively.

Change the pension rules? Require public employee contributions to health care plans? Not unreasonable, especially because most taxpayers have to do that. But switching the rules of collective bargaining just-like-that seems more than voters asked for.

We now have radical reform from the right on the table in Wisconsin, Ohio, even New Jersey. But these Republican men didn't take over in some sort of coup; they were elected. What's the old saying, Americans deserve the kind of government they elect.

Today Gov. Chris Christie took on the public employee unions as he unveiled a $29 billion budget. He wants workers to make concessions.

And he offered property tax relief for the poor but tied it to the workers ponying up money for their own pensions and health care plans.

Unlike his more conservative brethren to the west, he is NOT asking unions to give up collective bargaining.

We'll have the latest on the battle, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, our Jim Dolan is following developments in Libya, where today Moammar Gadhafi stood his ground during a remarkably rambling and scary speech. He ain't going anywhere, is the gist of his speech. His tone made it clear that he will not hesitate, again, to kill his own people who dare to revolt. Gadhafi is still clinging to power but the lack of any organized opposition is clearly letting him remain in power. Unlike Egypt, the high ranking people who want change are defecting symbolic of the lack of organized protests.

We're also following a mystery on the Alabama and Mississippi coasts, where 23 dolphins have washed on shore this month. Is it connected to the BP oil spill last year? Consider this: Dolphins conceive in March, April and May the height of the oil spill last year. With a gestation of 11-12 months, these infant dolphins washing up dead may be victims of the spill. Scientists believe the dolphins' food chain was disrupted and they ingested contaminants that complicated the pregnancies.

And our investigative reporter Sarah Wallace with part two of her exclusive story about a family on Long Island, now breaking its silence, after tapes of recorded conversations were released that raise disturbing questions about how a young man died in custody.

Did police contribute to his death?

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers in Tampa with the night's sports, including spring training and the blockbuster deal that's bringing Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks.

I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.


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