“I’m As Mad As Hell and I Am Not Going to Take It Anymore”

In the 1976 movie Network, written by Paddy Chayefsky, British news anchor Howard Beale finally has his fill of things and on air makes the comment below. Fast-forward 40 years. Close your eyes and picture this year’s Republican Presidential race. Can you hear today’s version of this monologue coming from Donald J. Trump as he say he wants to “Make America Great Again®”?

Beale: I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be!

We all know things are bad — worse than bad — they’re crazy.

It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.”

Well, I’m not going to leave you alone.

I want you to get mad!

I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your Congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street.

All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.

You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, g..d…it! My life has value!” So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,

“I’m as mad as hell,

and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”

These words, seen on the big screen in 1976, could very well be words we hear today on the national screen, or, they could be heard across the State of Alabama. The public is mad. The Governor is mad. Legislators are mad. Voters are mad. Everyone is mad about something. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are stoking the fears and anger of the public about issues that others will not address. The public does not understand why the state must face the prospect of yet another Special Session(s) of the Legislature to address issues the public believes should be dealt with during the Regular Session. The Governor is mad because he believes the Legislature is totally disregarding his programs and is acting with total disregard to any issue important to the Governor. Legislators are furious with the Governor over the raises he gave to his staff and Cabinet at a time when the General Fund Budget will likely be vetoed, overridden and then the Legislature will be called back in Special Session(s) to try to resolve. The Legislature is also unhappy with the finger pointing and allegations that they are not doing the job they were elected to do. (In all fairness, the Legislature is caught between finding adequate revenue, which is badly needed, and satisfying an electorate that, for the most part, insists on having absolutely no new taxes.) The voters are mad because they view the Legislature as not doing their job in finding adequate revenue to fund state government and providing the services that are demanded. (Remember, this is the same electorate that wants absolutely no new taxes.) Moreover, the voters are mad because they do not fully understand the dynamics of the political process.

All that said it was an interesting week in the Alabama Legislature. In the House, the General Fund Budget was adopted with very few changes from the Budget passed by the Senate. Attached is a copy of the House passed budget spreadsheet. On Friday Sen. Del Marsh, Senate President Pro Tempore, indicated that he felt that if the Governor called for a Special Session that it should not be until the fall and only after a loud, public outcry, by the people of Alabama.

As we enter the week before the Legislature adjourns for their Spring Break, the Senate must still pass a version of the Education Trust Fund Budget and address the General Fund Budget that the House has passed, and returned to the Senate. As passed by the House, the General Fund Budget will be vetoed by Governor Bentley and returned to the Legislature. All indications indicate that both the House and Senate will override that veto. A big question is whether the Governor will also veto the Education Trust Fund Budget that did not include the transfers that the Governor proposed from Education to the General Fund to balance, and fully fund, the General Fund needs. If the Las Vegas odds makers were setting odds on the actions in Alabama it would almost certainly be a sure bet to be on the side of a veto, an override and at a minimum one Special Session, if not more. But wait, gambling, in Alabama, is not legal.

The Legislature will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday next week before adjourning for their Spring Break. Add to the drama over the budgets the fact that the trial of Speaker Mike Hubbard has been yet again delay for two weeks until April 11 to allow the Alabama Supreme Court to review any appeals from the defense. Next week, though a short one, will be very interesting.

The Alabama House will reconvene at 1:00pm on Tuesday, March 22, 2016
The Alabama Senate will reconvene at 2:00pm on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The views and opinions contained in this report do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the clients of Public Strategies, LLC