I don't entirely understand this week's "grade" for Gov. Nixon from David Catanese. Generally speaking, Catanese is suggesting that Nixon should be held accountable for the actions of the GOP leadership in the House and Senate. I understand the general idea that the buck stops in the Governor's office, but blaming Nixon for Republican grandstanding against health care and economic development packages ignores what actually happened last week.
In fact, if one were to read the entire post without the headline, this looks a whole lot more like an indictment of the GOP leadership like last week's editorials from the KC Star and Post-Dispatch than a critique of Nixon. The problems cited in the post identify a Republican caucus or legislator as the source of the problem. So why does that reflect poorly on Nixon?
Here are the stated reasons for giving Nixon a "C-":
Despite Governor Nixon's repeated calls on the Senate to have his chief economic priority (Quality Jobs expansion) on his desk by now, the Upper Chamber didn't oblige. It's clear that the GOP-controlled Senate didn't see the urgency Nixon did.
There were also signs late last week that some Senate Democrats are frustrated that the Governor isn't communicating with them. Because things are only likely to get more tense as we head towards the homestretch, that's a double whammy.
Nixon's healthcare deal dominated the week. Get hospitals to raise their own taxes to pay for more healthcare? Seemed like a slam dunk, Dems argued. Not for House Republicans, who gutted much of Nixon's proposals in their budget committee hearings.
House Budget Chair Allen Icet seemed to contradict himself in saying that federal stimulus dollars shouldn't be used to fund ongoing programs. He later admitted in doing just that.
But Team Nixon is none too pleased with the House budget, and their best hope now is changes in the Senate. You know, the chamber that thumbed their nose at Nixon's jobs bill deadline and is seeking a bit more give and take with the Gov.
The Senate didn't pass the jobs bill, even though it enjoyed overwhelming support in the House and was strongly pushed by the Governor. Even GOP Speaker Ron Richard -- hardly a Nixon ally -- said the Senate was "holding jobs hostage":
“We’re holding jobs hostage,” Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said Thursday.
Mr. Richard threatened to send more than 300 versions of the pure jobs bill to the Senate until it relented and passed the legislation.
Richard also threatened to "send more than 300 versions of the pure jobs bill to the Senate until it relented and passed the legislation." It's hard to imagine why Richard would blame this on the Senate when given the choice to blame it on Nixon. But Richard clearly identifies the Senate as the problem.
Catanese also points to the health care deal negotiated by Nixon with the hospitals, in which 34,800 Missourians could receive coverage at no new cost to the state. The deal, of course, was blocked by House Republicans. The GOP gave no real reason for opposing the deal, other than the fact that it would make them look bad if they recanted on their draconian cuts from 2005. And House Budget Chair Allen Icet was even embarrassed on the floor for making up bogus excuses to block the package.
Speaking of Icet, Catanese also mentions Icet that "seemed to contradict" himself. This is a very generous description of Icet's change of tune. In fact, the "we didn't use federal money for ongoing expenses" claim was so ingrained in the GOP talking points that the Speaker repeated it on Thursday, after the claim had been exposed -- and had to be corrected by Icet.
All told, there's only one mention of an alleged problem that could be attributed to Nixon. Tension with Democratic Senators could become a problem, but it hasn't caused any actual problems yet, as far as I can tell.
I enjoy Catanese's blog a lot (and like his use of video, no matter with others say), but think that this week's post misses the mark.