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Photography courtesy of RebelAt of English Wikipedia
The Missouri General Assembly kicked off its 2013 session with its customary forced civility, mushy recognitions, and speeches without substance, but the big headline had to be that the Republicans’ two new veto-proof chambers were approaching the task of governance with starkly divergent slogans.
In the Senate, President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (R–St. Charles) went with his BIG Solutions plan, which was described as an acronym for “Build our infrastructure,” “Invest in education,” and “Grow our economy.”
Not to be outdone, House Speaker Tim Jones (R–Eureka) went with his “Triple E Agenda,” with the E's said to stand for “Economic Development, Energy Policy and Education.”
Now there’s a real choice here. Do you go BIG or do you go Triple E? I mean, it’s hard to imagine doing both, unless the two houses come together with something like Triple BIG E's (EEE) or perhaps the BIG Triple E.
Technically, I suppose Dempsey can get away with his use of BIG as Build, Invest and Grow, although he was actually trying to morph three different priorities more properly known as BOI, IIE, and GOE. And Jones really is fighting for EDEPE.
Such acronyms would have been as nonsensical as the Republicans’ emerging strategy of trying to cure the ills of a revenue-starved state government by slashing taxes that are already near the bottom nationally. It’s apparently a response to that great juggernaut Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback’s draconian tax cuts last year may have pushed his state to the edge of its own fiscal cliff.
But that argument is for another day. Today is a day for acronyms. And Missouri is full of them, not only in its epic struggle of Triple E vs. BIG, but potentially as a means of summarizing the legislators’ agenda for dealing with Medicaid expansion and gun control, two issues that are burning nationally but somehow weren’t worthy of mention in Jefferson City yesterday.
This is truly disappointing, because Dempsey and Jones certainly have an acronym-worthy approach to these subjects.
There’s the LIES program—Lower-Income Earners Suffer—in which the state would continue to deny Medicaid coverage to people making more than 10 percent of the poverty level. This was formerly known as the LTEC (Let Them Eat Cake) program, but was reconfigured because the acronym sounded too much like some newfangled technology idea.
And, there’s the GAG (Guns Are Good) program—more properly known as the GAG reflex—through which Republicans (and a fair number of Democrats) will undoubtedly take a “nothing to see here, move along” approach to the issue of gun violence, but only after flirting with the idea of arming all elementary-school children in the name of God and the Second Amendment.
That, I’m sure, is just the tip of the iceberg in a General Assembly certain to be remembered as a collection of Legislators Opposing Sensible Things.
That would be LOST.
SLM co-owner Ray Hartmann is a panelist on KETC Channel 9’s Donnybrook, which airs Thursdays at 7 p.m.
Commentary by Ray Hartmann