THANKS to a Republican, the Democrats are back in the House leadership for the first time since the 15th Legislature (2006-2008) when the two Democratic House members joined the Covenant Party-led coalition and served as vice speaker and floor leader. In the 12th Legislature (2000-2002), the six House Democrats joined a Republican faction to form the leadership under Speaker Benigno R. Fitial who would later found the Covenant Party, one of whose young stalwarts is now the new and Independent speaker — a level-headed, hard-working legislator with an admirable aversion to theatrics.

The Covenant Party, in any case, also formed the House leadership in the 17th Legislature (2010-2013). The speaker was Froilan C. Tenorio, the last Democrat to be elected CNMI governor. When he resigned from the speakership, his successor was his administration’s former special assistant for budget and management.

So when was the last time a Democrat was speaker of the House? That happened in the Seventh Legislature (1990-1992). The speakership race was actually between two Democrats. Backed by  Republicans and one other Democrat, the eventual winner won by a single vote.

The last time the Democrats won a majority of the House seats was in 1989. Another fun fact: Democrats have never won a majority of the seats in the CNMI Senate. “Since ever since.”

More deadlocks, please 

THE composition of the new House leadership does not tell us how the individual members will vote on key and controversial measures and policy decisions.  But some say that the current setup could be “the beginning of a bipartisan and collaborative House,” to which the only sensible reply is, Good God no!

Every time lawmakers “cooperate” they, more often than not, pass useless and even harmful measures like fee-hikes, tax-hikes, government-pay-hikes or new restrictions that will make it harder and costlier for legitimate, law-abiding businesses to survive in the CNMI. They can’t even figure out how to enforce the anti-littering law passed in 1989 (and amended with much fanfare in 2016), but they’re going to “address” the Commonwealth’s problems? How? More oversight hearings? More speeches? More talk?

No thank you. But thank you federal government and federal taxpayers for the much needed financial assistance that actually benefits actual people who need help.

The federal lawmaking body of the U.S. can, more often than not, pull billions of dollars out of a hat like so many rabbits because the U.S. has the largest and still the most dynamic economy in the world. Some politicians, however, apparently believe that winning an election comes with a magic wand. And that magic wands work.

Thank God for a bicameral legislature, checks and balances, the separation of powers — and deadlocks.

Economics 101

AS we have mentioned in the past, someone or an organization such as the chamber of commerce, should host an economics seminar for elected officials. They, of all people, should know how prices, including wages, are set in the real world; why prices and costs vary among different countries or jurisdictions; how international trade works; the relationship between tax rates and government revenue; the costs of doing business in the Commonwealth; the economic history of the NMI.

Besides economists, the guest speakers should include businesspersons, including those who operate small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.

As Herbert Spencer would put it, the “legislator who is wholly or in great part uninformed concerning the masses of facts which he must examine before his opinion on a proposed law can be of any value, and who nevertheless helps to pass that law, can no more be absolved if misery and mortality result, than the [pharmacist] can be absolved when death is caused by the medicine he ignorantly prescribes.”


Zaldy Dandan is the recipient of the Best Editorial Writer Award of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the CNMI Humanities Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism. His three books are available on amazon.com

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