Former New York Governor George Pataki is wandering around the early primary and caucus states talking about the nation’s debt crisis and dropping not-so-subtle hints about his own availability for a presidential run. Pataki says Americans must face up to the impending debt crisis, and he would like to see the GOP contenders put forward substantive proposals on the issue. He says if none do, he may have to step into the race in order to fill the debt vacuum.
This is, of course, more than a little disingenuous. For any presidential candidate to present a detailed budget plan for 2013 would be an invitation to disaster since their GOP opponents, not to mention Democrats, could then pick it apart at leisure. Such courage might help provoke an interesting debate, but it would also make the author of such a plan a human piñata. For evidence of this, Google “Ryan, Paul.”
But it would be a public service if some of the journalists who are allowing the former governor to use them to promote a candidacy no one but Pataki has been calling for were to ask him about his own record on the issues of debt and spending. Though Pataki arrived in Albany in 1995 with a tax cutting agenda, by the end of his third and last term in 2006, he had become part of the problem, not the solution. For example, in his final proposed state budget, Pataki sought to increase spending to a level that was more than twice the inflation rate. Under his tutelage, state outlays rose faster than the Consumer Price Index. It should also be noted Pataki’s deals with state workers were exactly the sort of exorbitant efforts to buy labor peace that have led numerous other states to the brink of bankruptcy and forced a new generation of governors such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Pataki’s own successor Andrew Cuomo into confrontations with these unions.
But readers will find none of this information in an interview with Pataki in today’s Fiscal Times. In the piece, he is allowed to grandstand on the issue of debt and flirt with a presidential run without a single question about his own record of spending and debt creation. While he may be allowed to get away with this sort of hypocrisy in Iowa and New Hampshire, if Pataki wants to run against debt, perhaps he should confine his speeches to his own state where citizens and reporters might remember his substantial contributions to the crisis he now seeks to solve.