Saturday, June 17, 2006

Bob the Contrarian

In a press release and series of comments, Gov. Ehrlich denounced and vowed a public relations campaign against the plan approved in special session by the General Assembly to address rising consumer electricity rates.

The funny thing is, the legislation seems mighty similar to proposals Ehrlich has floated and supported on the issue.

In the leadup to the session, Ehrlich repeatedly warned that the Assembly mustn't do anything to put BGE and parent company Constellation into financial straits. Yesterday, Ehrlich attacked the bill that passed as a giveaway to the corporation.

Ehrlich himself proposed a deferral plan that would have required those who opted in to pay interest on their bills. But in his press release, he expressed "grave reservations about a plan that forces 1 million Marylanders to pay $109 million in interest." (In reality, all of that interest will be covered by concessions from the company).

So Ehrlich denounces a plan, which was supported by many in his own party, that looks strikingly similar to his own and goes even further than he wanted to protect corporate interests. He also promised a public hearing to spell out his point of view to the public. Sure, he has a few legitimate bones of contention with it (particularly with the replacement of the Public Service Commission), but on the whole it seems to be what he wanted.

It seems the Governor has no concern for policy, only for his own electoral fortunes. He realized that he would score no political points if he simply signed a bill passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature. To squeeze any benefits for the November election out of the issue, Ehrlich needed to take a strong stand. He needed to seem like he was fighting for something. And since the GA's plan is out there, he'll shore up his fightin' credentials by opposing it.

from The League: Reassembled


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