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Aug 6, 2008

"Fitial mischaracterizes GAO report...."

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued its report on the economic impact of the federalization of the CNMI's immigration laws. The bottom line is that the impact will depend on how the feds (specifically, the Executive Branch) implement the law, and that the feds will need additional data to guide them properly. The Variety news account of the report, under the headline "GAO Downplays Fitial's Economic Disaster Scenario," can be found here.

One thing GAO makes clear is that the Fitial administration has mischaracterized what the report says: "By focusing on one of several scenarios developed for illustrative purposes rather than the full range of scenarios included in our report, the CNMI government comments...inaccurately stated that the report predicts a substantial decline in the CNMI economy as a result of the legislation" (emphasis added).

It appears that the Governor has repeated this mischaracterization of the GAO report: Fitial said today that "the GAO concludes, even with the most favorable (and unrealistic) assumptions, that the law's implementation will most probably result in a 50-percent decline in the economic output (or GDP) of the Commonwealth by 2021 if not sooner." GAO would strenuously object to that mischaracterization of its conclusions.

The Fitial team had requested repeatedly that Congress delay passage of the federalization bill until GAO issued its report.

Congressional leaders replied that such a delay was not necessary. They said that the federalization bill itself would not harm the CNMI, and that the impact would depend on how the bill was implemented. They said that economic studies would be useful not to Congress in deciding whether to pass the bill, but rather to the Executive Branch in developing the regulations that would implement the bill. GAO appears to have endorsed this view.

Now, the feds have the very serious obligation of gathering the additional data that needs to be gathered and ensuring that federalization is implemented in a manner that allows the CNMI to develop a strong economy. We all have an interest in keeping the pressure on the feds to make sure that they do their job properly.


Anonymous said...

This is more of Fitial's "blast the feds" strategy. When Congress was considering the bill, they kept saying "Wait for the GAO report", as if GAO would be their savior. Now that GAO has not said what they wanted them to say, they blast GAO. They also put words in GAO's mouth which tend to suggest that the GAO report backs their view, which it doesn't.

Goobernator said...

Keep the pressure on the feds? Are you insane? We should be putting pressure on Fitial. Get real.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Island Girl.

The GAO report includes the dire 50% reduction as one of a range of possibilities, depending on whether the Secretary of Labor extends the transition period, and whether the Department of Homeland Security faithfully takes a linear path to reach zero permits for guest workers by 2014. GAO said IF the transition period is not extended, and IF there are no permits for guest workers at the end of 2014, THEN there could be a 50% decline. But how likely is it that either one of those things would happen? It's like saying, IF global warming boils the oceans away, and IF the sun depletes its stores of hydrogen fuel in 2014 and consumes our solar system in a fiery cataclysm, THEN there will be a 100% decline in economic activity in the CNMI. Who's going to lose sleep over this? Nobody.

Perhaps the governor should sue the sun, due to the theoretical possibility that it might harm our economy when it goes supernova?

Anonymous said...

Yes, we need to keep pressure on Fitial. But since he has messed up our relationship with the feds beyond repair, we need to find a way to communicate our needs to the feds without our 28% governor (now much less) poisoning the whole thing. The feds think he and Willens are a joke, but the rest of us need a way to stand up for our interests because what the feds do will affect us.

Lil' Hammerhead said...

You wouldn't know he mischaracterized it by the Saipan Tribune story. Talk about putting a twist on things. If you want something closer to reality, you'll have to visit the Marianas Variety on this one. Mind boggling.

Anonymous said...

The foregoing five posts are wrong, as is the argumentative, Variety-style “analysis” that introduces this thread.

Read the whole report for yourself. Only the Saipan Tribune printed the link for all to see.


The Variety expects us to trust their warped interpretation. The GAO is covering up for their blatant failure to subject their economic theories to a peer review.

Remember, the GAO is an arm of Congress! Of course they are motivated to cover up for the ill-conceived Pub. L. 110-229. Yet even their own report says that the feds won't have the data for a couple of years.

As with the feds' non-prosecution of the supposedly rampant human trafficking (which will now “go away” due to the bad economy, according to the FBI, or closure of garment factories, according to AUSA O'Malley) (!), they haven't devoted adequate census resources in the CNMI over the years, either.

Marianas Pride said...

Those evil feds! How dare they! Let's break away from the United States and start courting China. That way, Governor Fitial will be happy because our minimum wage will only be 59 cents an hour, and anyone like me who criticizes him will be shot, and the bullet will be charged to the family.

Stupidity is more of a problem for the CNMI than federalization.

Howard Willens and Governor Fitial, sorry, but your bonehead lawsuit is going nowhere. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

Federalization is here to stay. Get used to it.

By the way, people don't give a rat's ass about federalization when we have eight power outages a day.

Stop trying to divert attention from the real problem, which is Fitial's bad bad bad decisions and sole sourcing the farm via the buddy buddy primo familia network.

Stupidity. You voted for it, you got it!

Marianas Pride said...

We should start placing bets on how many votes Fitial will get in 2009.
We all know he will finish dead last, but how many votes will he get?

Any predictions?

Anonymous said...

MP - glad to see you're giving the devil a name (Willens). He and his wife have dazzled and duped without being held accountable.
You'll never catch the devil til you give him a name - well done Ed.

Stop Spinning said...

"The foregoing five posts are wrong, as is the argumentative, Variety-style “analysis” that introduces this thread. Read the whole report for yourself. Only the Saipan Tribune printed the link for all to see."

That's very inept spin, Nony. You state that the posts are "wrong", and rather than pointing out why, you simply say "read the whole report" to find out why. You know damn well that most people won't have time to read the whole report (like I have). So you create the impression that if they only read the whole report, they would see that you're right and the rest of us are wrong.

And you're contradicting yourself: You say that reading the whole GAO report will prove that your warped view is correct, but you also say that GAO is biased and can't be trusted. You can't have your cake and eat it too, confused spinning Nony!

Stop Spinning said...

Spinning Nony, you know darn well that if you had anything specific to refute this post (and assertion that Fitial and Willens have mischaracterized the GAO report), you would have stated it. You got nothing!

Anonymous said...

To Lil Hammerhead: The Tribune achieved a little more balance on Day 2, allowing GAO to set things straight. Here's the link. The Tribune story today definitely backs up what this post is saying, that Fitial has grossly mischaracterized the GAO report for his own purposes.

chamberonomics said...

The federalization case is over.

Even if the Governor's spin had validity, that would only strengthen the case for US intervention.

The chamber / Fitial supporters, to quote Ed above, "don't give a rats ass" that thousands of our children on Saipan can not afford drinking water. The chamber / Fitial / fed fighters have no plan to provide basic services for the people here and US intervention is at last forthcoming.

bradinthesand said...

who can't afford drinking water? $1.50 for 5 gallons is affordable for everyone even if gasoline isn't.

bradinthesand said...

there's the nutrition assistance program for people who don't make enough money to provide proper nutrition for their families.

how they spend the money is up to them.

Anonymous said...

Good point on giving the devil a name. How bout The Lord of the Flies and the Mistress oif Lies?

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Spin it left or spin it right, you'll read into it what suits your fancy anyway.

The real entertainment in this thread is the so far unpercieved (or at least unmentioned) irony of an anonymous commenter who worries about giving the devil a name.
("You'll never catch the devil til you give him a name - well done Ed.")

Thanks for the laugh.

chamberonomics said...

Brad - "who can't afford drinking water? $1.50 for 5 gallons is affordable for everyone even if gasoline isn't".

I conducted a survey among my upper class students prior to lunch last year and the results showed 50% did not have ONE DOLLAR in in their pocket the class period before lunch. Besides, how many school aged kids can lug around 40 pounds of water. Small bottles cost .50 to 1.75, Saipan is hot, and young kids out must buy drinking water or go thirsty.

When my father visited recently I asked him what he thought about our gasoline prices and he replied

"gas is only slightly higher in the states where we typically drive 50 to 100 miles per day, while Saipan drivers likely average less than 10 miles per day. What I am shocked about is the price of drinking water. If drinking water is bought at convenience stores here, it is higher than gasoline".

I think our sleazy and two-bit investors in the past did not invest in our infrastructure, couple with political malfeasance leaves us in the economic reality we see today.

bradinthesand said...

"I conducted a survey among my upper class students prior to lunch last year and the results showed 50% did not have ONE DOLLAR in in their pocket the class period before lunch."

you know, kids could bring a water bottle from home and carry it with you. they don't have to lug around a 5 gallon tank on their back.

they can adapt. bring a backpack for their school supplies and their liter or so of water.

don't the classrooms have 5gal. water dispensers in them? i know they do in elementary schools.

chamberonomics said...

Brad - A few have dispensers but even if the teacher buys his or her own, then it needs to be supplied with cups as having 1 cup at the water jug risks disease. The question here though is not an adequate water supply at school, it is students buying their own when they are not in session.

Anonymous said...

Brad, why don't you ask PTI donate water for the school..im' sure PTI can afford 5gals. of water..right Brad?

gone fishin said...

Boat for Sale - Call lt Govs office

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