The Skeptical Inquirer (content not on-line) ran an article about how most lucky situations are actually not chance, but people taking advantage of chance.
Rod Blagojevich can’t be this lucky, so he must subscribe to this theory. I have been critical of his plan to sell bonds for pension liabilities and invest money at a higher rate than the current interest rate. That criticism still stands because the benefits fo the deal are being taken right off the bat instead of over the life of the deal.
The second criticism of the deal just fell apart. I, and many others, were concerned that the state might not get the interest rate or might not invest wisely. It is certainly possible that the state won’t invest wisely, but not in the likely category, especially since the State of Illinois just got fantastic interest rates on the bonds. Rich Miller argues this is just the next example of how G-Rod surprises everyone,
I’m not a superstitious person, but I’m starting to believe that Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s life has been blessed by a kindly leprechaun, a lucky star or an influential guardian angel. Take your pick.
He was elected to the Illinois House after a new legislative map gave state Rep. Bruce Farley (D-Chicago) the opportunity to be kicked upstairs to the Senate by Blagojevich’s politically powerful father-in-law.
He moved up to Congress two years after the supposedly unbeatable Democrat Dan Rostenkowski was defeated by a no-name Republican in a fluke election.
He won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination against a field of candidates that simply couldn’t or wouldn’t compete on an "A" level.
He then faced a not exactly energetic Republican nominee, Jim Ryan, who shared the same last name with the disgraced GOP incumbent, George Ryan, in a year when the Republican Party was bitterly divided after a nasty primary and spiritually broken from a years-long corruption scandal.
And then, last week, word leaked that the office run by his most probable 2006 opponent, GOP state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, had been hit with a federal subpoena relating to alleged campaigning on state time.
You just can’t get much luckier than he has.
This is not to imply that Blagojevich got where he is today solely on the basis of good fortune or his in-laws. Whatever you may think of him, you have to at least grudgingly admit that his successes during his first legislative session showed that his tenacity is impressive, his energy is almost boundless, his deliberate calculation might make Machiavelli blush and his charm is often disarming. Yes, he’s been handed a slew of lucky breaks, but he has taken full advantage of almost all of them.
In general, he generates his own luck
You may remember a few months ago when the Republicans and many others, myself included, cast a skeptical, even hostile eye at the governor’s plan to float $10 billion in long-term bonds, skim $2 billion off the top as "profit" and use the money to make scheduled pension payments, and then invest the rest at a hoped-for 8.5 percent to pay off the bonds. Too risky, the bond houses would hate it, the idea would hurt our credit rating, etc., etc., etc.
It’s still early, but, so far, the governor’s pension bond "scheme" has performed above even the governor’s allegedly overly optimistic expectations.
The governor hoped to get a 6 percent rate on the bonds and figured he could probably sell only up to $6 billion right away. Instead, all $10 billion was gobbled up last week by hungry investors at an interest rate just a hair above 5 percent.
It is now conceivable, even probable, that the lower interest rate will allow the governor to skim off another several hundred million dollars and use that cash to pay off much of next fiscal year’s scheduled pension payments ? thereby closing a huge upcoming budgetary hole. The wizards at the Office of Management and Budget are currently examining just that scenario.
Add that dough to at least $600 million from a recently approved federal bailout, plus the possibility that some of his other supposedly harebrained ideas might outperform expectations (sale of the Thompson Center, state takeover of a riverboat license, etc.), and if the economy continues to grow a little (which it usually does during a presidential election year), the next budget deficit might not be nearly as bad as some predict (earlier estimates ranged from $2 billion to $3 billion and beyond), which could allow him to once again pass a budget without raising taxes or expanding gaming.
I can’t improve on the column’s clincher,
But no matter how much his perpetual campaign style of governing might continue to irritate, I’m not going to make the same mistake that Washington, D.C., people consistently made with another similarly charmed politico, Bill Clinton.
I am through betting against this man. Call it luck, call it skill, call it whatever you want. The percentages just aren’t there.
If the 2008/2012 rumors are true for G-Rod, the Governor just smiled with that comparison.