Deconstructing The Blather

Recently we received the League of Women Voters Voter Information Bulletin for the Columbus area.  It provides biographical and party affiliation information, poses certain questions to the candidates, and prints their brief responses.  The Q&A stuff is the most interesting, at once both infuriating and perversely hilarious.

For example, one question to Ohio House and Senate candidates notes that Ohio faces a huge budget deficit in the next biennium — estimated to be as much as $8 billion — and asks “What specific revenue increases would you support and what cuts would you make to balance the budget?” (emphasis added)  In his response, Ohio Senate candidate Mark Pfeifer says he’s “not afraid to make government more efficient and accountable.”  (Well, that’s settled!)  But when he gets “specific,” all he mentions is fighting “Medicaid fraud,” encouraging “shared services among local governments,” promoting “wider use of performance audits,” and making use of “the sunset review process to elimination outdated or duplicative state boards.”  That carefully phrased answer sounds like somebody who is afraid to rattle any cages.  Does anyone honestly believe that the “waste, fraud, and abuse” that everyone cites as the way to balance the budget, but somehow never gets cut, is going to close an $8 billion budget gap — or that the other, minor concepts Pfeifer mentions are going to do the trick, either?

In response to that same question, Ohio Senate candidate Charleta Tavares delivers this masterpiece of political blather:   “I have not determined which increases would be most appropriate.  I will work with my colleagues to build a consensus on where to increase revenues and how best to make cuts.  The revenue increases and projected cuts would be based on what is fair, equitable, just and on previous cuts made to programs, services and/or sectors.  The guiding principle would be to ensure that services are focused on the needs of our residents; job growth potential; and cost/benefit analysis (analysis to include financial, health/welfare and jobs impacts).”  Could any answer to a simple question be more meaningless?

Given these kinds of obfuscatory answers — and they are not unique among the responses printed in the Voter Information Bulletin — is it any wonder that voters are fed up?  Democrat, Republican, or Independent, we are sick to death of candidates who try to sneak into office in a haze of obscure rhetoric, all the while knowing exactly what they hope to do but being too timid to say so.