Sunday, November 20, 2005

Lost in Translation

One of the difficulties faced by the present administration is that the general cynicism that envelops it may well obscure even the best ideas put forth by the Governor. Some of the coverage of All Kids serves to underscore this point.

In its national round-up, U.S. News and World Report leads off by calling the program 'a costly safety net for Illinois kids', saying:

Other states are sure to be watching closely as Illinois implements an ambitious plan to provide health insurance for all children in the state, including those from middle-class families.

The new law, signed last week by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is the most sweeping and comprehensive in the nation. It aims to extend health coverage to 250,000 children, half of them from families that earn over $40,000 a year.

With its price tag of $45 million for just the first year, the law could seriously strain the state's already tight budget. And critics worry that residents from other states will flock to Illinois to collect benefits.

As usual, there is a political twist. Blagojevich, who pushed the bill, has recently been involved in a federal investigation of hiring practices. Republicans charge--and Blagojevich denies--that the bill is a way of diverting attention from the controversy.

Not exactly the warm and fuzzies that they had been hoping for.

Things weren't much better closer to home. The Champaign-Urbana-based News-Gazette (by the way, that's as many hypens as you're likely to see in a row) focused more on the press release than the substance of the bill, pointing out that the release was actually wordier than the enacted new law.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich this week issued what was probably the longest press release The News-Gazette Capitol bureau has seen since it reopened in July 2000.

The 8-page doozy of a release announced the governor's signing of the All Kids legislation, designed to make sure no child in Illinois goes without health insurance.

It contained supportive quotes from no fewer than 34 different individuals, plus the governor.
Not counting the 50 or so words in the headline portion, the release contained 3,980 words (according to the word count tool in Microsoft Word.)

That's more words than in the Declaration of Independence (1,337), the Articles of Confederation (about 3,400) or the 1783 Treaty of Paris (about 2,000).

The governor's press release for the signing of All Kids contained even more words than the number of words added to state statutes in order to enact the new law (2,227).
While I am seeing signs that the Executive Office is trying to get more focused on a consistent message, Tusk's opinion piece in the Journal-Register last week is a good example, they are really going to need a sustained and concerted effort if they expect the substance to break through the clutter.


At November 20, 2005 at 7:56 AM, Anonymous Lake County Lancer said...

Why is it just they who need to break through the clutter? It might help if our state reps and senators help the Guv get the word out, especially because this is so important to families flying blind and there will be a lot of media clutter with the confusing Medicare bill. My rep (Karen May) has nothing on her web site (not surprising -- it hasn't been updated since 2004) and I can't even find Susan Garrett's site (save one that was abandoned in 2003). You have Kid Care as the second issue in health issues section of your Web site -- doesn't this deserve at least a link to ? There are enough people to whom this program could be a Godsend that the politics would take care of itself if the Dems could only put their bickering aside.

In contrast, when former Governor Ryan gladhanded with dictators and used the death penalty moritorium as a distraction the media seemed all too ready to separate politics from policy.

At November 20, 2005 at 9:08 AM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

Interesting point. I believe though that just as I have primary obligation for advocating my priorities, the Governor's office has primary responsibility for delivering the message about his initiatives.

Yes, KidCare is the second issue in the health section of my site, behind the med mal issue, which was one that dominated much of the past session. I see no problem with that.

My main point is that some of the issues that have surrounded the administration thus far are now making their legitimate efforts more difficult. Not impossible mind you, just harder.

Thanks for the input though. I appreciate it.

At November 21, 2005 at 9:00 AM, Blogger Bill said...

The Governor's re-election campaign has not started yet. When it does, I expect that his competent staff will begin to communicate his major accomplishments during his first term. Allkids and expanded Kidscare is one of his major accomplishments. He has increased spending on K-12 education in 3 short years more that the last 2 governors combined. During his administration,there has been increased job growth and revenue growth in a state that was economically stagnant when he took office. He balanced the state budget after being left with a $5 BILLION deficit. All of this was accomplished in spite of retaining 27 years worth of republican state employees, many of whom dislike the administration and never miss an opportunity to sabatoge his initiatives. All of this was accomplished without raising sales or income taxes. For some reason many reporters and so-called pundits seem to dislike the governor and his staff and never miss an opportunity to bash him and obscure these positive accomplishments. Maybe that is because they are no longer considered scared cows and no longer entitled to special treatment by the governors office. I'm sure many of them long for the "good" old days when they were considered insiders and in return kept quiet about what was going on in state gov't.


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