Governor must answer, ‘Where’s the beef?’

In his speech today updating constituents on the status of his “New Day” program, Gov. Neil Abercrombie once again did an excellent job of describing the major challenges that Hawai‘i faces.

But he still hasn’t gotten to the hardest part — prescribing specific remedies that a critical mass of Hawai‘i residents will support despite the sacrifices they will certainly entail.

The governor basically declared that he has state finances in the black and the wheels of government aligned more to his liking and is now ready to focus on a “gathering storm” that threatens Hawai‘i’s  future.

He identified the five elements of the threat as the massive debt we face with some $22 billion in unfunded pension and medical benefits owed public workers, soaring healthcare costs, our over-reliance on outside energy and food, inadequate support for education and social services, and the potential for huge federal funding cuts.

His solution, as always, was his “New Day” plan to create jobs around a sustainable economy, invest in our children and make state government more efficient.

Abercrombie encouraged everybody to join in the sacrifices and took aim at Hawai‘i’s status quo that he was long seen as part of.

“The status quo insists that we conform to the way things have always been,” he said. “It is obsessed with illusory short-term gain at the expense of long-term stability. It favors the few. It outflanks the middle class, and it marginalizes those who need help the most. It questions and casts doubt upon new ideas. It stifles creativity and limits opportunity.”

It’s hard to argue with his logic, but the devil will be in the details — of which he offered few.

Abercrombie’s biggest problem is that he’s burned much of the political goodwill he had after landslide victories over Mufi Hannemann and James “Duke” Aiona.

Part of it was unavoidable, such as his necessarily tough stand in union negotiations that angered some of the noisiest labor and “progressive” elements of the Democratic Party.

Demanding that his political base make the same sacrifices as everybody else should have won him points with moderates and progressives who have always been suspicious of him.

But Abercrombie unnecessarily antagonized them with missteps such as his pointless tizzy fit on the Pro Bowl, his decision to shroud judicial appointments in secrecy for no good reason and a perceived arrogance exemplified by his infamous “I’m not your pal” remark.

He needs to smooth over some of the self-inflicted ill feelings and regain political capital so that next year he can face a Legislature that disregarded many of his ideas this year from a position of greater strength.

If he’s seen as weak and lacking public confidence, it’ll be everyone for themselves and he’ll get little cooperation on the shared sacrifices he seeks.

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4 Comments on “Governor must answer, ‘Where’s the beef?’”

  1. Richard Gozinya Says:

    My open mind has now shut. The Gov, like just about every politician I’ve listened to during this economic crisis, has proven himself so full of crap that an enema would leave us only a pair of shoes. Brutal and rude? Absolutely but it’s clear that PR spin and can-kicking is the goal, not the resolution of problems. Bachi on all their houses.

  2. hipoli Says:

    During the campaign, I suggested here and elsewhere that we, the Voters, should be asking and looking for details out of the various candidates. Even the New Day plan, pretty and idealistic as it was, lacked detail on how it would be implemented. It all sounded so good, didnt it? To be fair, the Gloss was coming from out of almost all the candidates. Personally, I was frustrated to watch voters swayed by the Gloss. So, now, Dear Voters, you didnt pay attention, you didnt ask tougher questions, so now youre getting exactly what you voted for. Lesson Learned?

    That said – given our choices – the choice of Neil over Mufi, especially with some of Mufi’s ridiculous race-based campaign tactics, the lowblow attack ads, and his opposition to civil unions – gave us all little choice.

  3. Kurt Kamikawa Says:

    Will voters learn to carefully examine a candidate’s record and affiliations, rather than let emotions be the guide in elections?

  4. Guido Sarducci Says:

    Did you really expect anything else from a “DSA-er Democrat”?

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