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Posted: April 11, 2009 11:30 p.m.

How to make F-22s disappear

Unless the Easter bunny leaves Georgia’s government a bushel of golden eggs, the Peach State is in a heck of a mess.

Before the legislature adjourned its unusually brief session, it enacted an annual budget that doesn’t balance. Unless the current recession ends by Wednesday, Georgia’s state government is on a collision course with a gaping $225 million shortfall. State law prohibits red-ink budgets.

Of course, our lawmakers showed plainly that they don’t much care what the law says. They needed to get home.

So they enacted a so-called recession budget based on a 6.8 percent loss in revenue in the coming year. The professional money men in the Gold Dome say with near certainty that Georgia is on track for an 8.6 percent loss in revenue.

Even an aging journalist understands that the General Assembly’s budget doesn’t jibe with reality. The light we see at the end of the tunnel shines on a steep financial cliff, and we’re about to drop off it.

In fact, either Gov. Sonny Perdue gallops to the rescue with some magic money or the lawmakers must return to Atlanta to straighten out their mess with more cuts  —  or more taxes  —  or something. We’ve already tapped our share of the stimulus money  —  just after our leaders stamped “socialism” on the U.S. letter of transfer.

If we could rerun and edit the tapes on the legislative session, we would make a couple of changes that could have helped avert the coming train wreck.

For instance, we could cut out nearly all the speechifying concerning the president of the United States.

If we could extend our editorial reach to Washington, we would leave on the cutting-room floor the tapes of Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson plus the precious words of Reps. Phil Gingrey and Tom Price.

Oh, I’m sure they received tons of mail praising their grand criticism of President Obama and his advisers. And they must have been praised highly among the GOP stalwarts for whacking their Democratic colleagues.

However, I understand that all four are in the minority party now and don’t grasp everything that’s going on. Too bad some compassionate soul didn’t whisper into Rep./Dr. Gingrey’s ear: “You’re needed in surgery, doctor. President Obama  —  the guy you say you dislike so much  —  and his pals are about to slice 2,000 Georgia defense jobs out of the federal spending plan.”

Those jobs will come from downsizing the production in Marietta of the F-22 fighter jet.

In the old days, a discreet call from Sen. Richard Russell or Sen. Sam Nunn or House Speaker Newt Gingrich to the Pentagon or the White House might have delayed or even halted the cutbacks.

Consider the present. Russell and Nunn are long gone, and Speaker Gingrich is out of the picture for now. Who are Saxby, Johnny, Phil and Tom going to call? The White House? That’s an idea, except while Obama was working out his budget in the Oval Office, he would occasionally glance at the TV. And there, in living color, he would see Georgia’s own Tom Price telling the world that Obama was leading us all straight to hell. Or Phil would be on Rush Limbaugh’s talk show, telling the fat guy how wonderful he was.

We would edit all that out, if we could, and then hurry back to Georgia to clean up some other things. First, we’d need to Photoshop off Speaker Glenn Richardson’s face, that smirk which occurred just as he killed with relish a routine resolution from the Georgia House Black Caucus honoring America’s first black president. In Washington, Obama watched and scribbled another note in the margin of the defense plan.

When the federal budget finally appeared, all but a couple of the F-22s had disappeared from the radar. The experts say the whole program may shortly vanish. See how smart our congressmen are? They really showed old Obama, didn’t they?

In Atlanta, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Richardson presented the state’s “amended budget”: a document with a gigantic mistake in math. Or maybe I’m too harsh. Did our learned solons purposely miss balancing the books by $225 million? Did they want an excuse to hurry back to Atlanta to correct the error?

Of course, what’s done is done. We can’t edit history. Still, you’d think professional politicians would learn: When the teacher is grading your paper, don’t announce that she’s an ugly old hag. The class may laugh, but the teacher’s smile means an F is on the way. The same rule applies to government budget directors and lawmakers.
    
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail: shipp1@bellsouth.net, or Web address: billshipponline.com.

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