Did Villaraigosa know what he was getting into with 'Fix the Debt'?

Sure doesn't seem that way. The ad hoc group of business executives and lawmakers pushing Washington to get its fiscal house in order is loaded with corporate agendas that run counter to the mayor's left-leaning base. Villaraigosa has tried to deflect the criticism with his unctuous brand of sanctimony - "I'm in a job where I'm not looking to do what's popular. I'm looking to do what's right" - but it's not at all clear how the mayor's presence in this effort achieves much of anything, other than to piss people off. Does he really want to be aligned with people who, in many ways, are responsible for what led to the bulging deficit? From the NYT:

Many of the campaign's members will be juggling their private interests with their public goals: they are also lobbyists, board members or executives for corporations that have worked aggressively to shape the contours of federal spending and taxes, including many of the tax breaks that would be at the heart of any broad overhaul. Indeed, while Fix the Debt criticized the recent fiscal deal between Mr. Obama and lawmakers, saying it did not do enough to cut spending or close tax loopholes, companies and industries linked to the organization emerged with significant victories on taxes and other policies. "Some of these folks who are trying to be part of the solution have also been part of the problem," said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning advocacy group, and a former economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. "They've often fought hard against the kind of balance that we need on the revenue side. Many of the people we're talking about are associated with policies that would make it a lot harder to fix the debt."

While pondering his role in Fix the Debt, you might also wonder why he isn't more front and center in fixing the L.A. debt, which last I checked was still out of control. I mean, the guy still has six months in office. Why not make the city's budget crisis his top priority? From the Daily News editorial page:

Villaraigosa tells Rick Orlov, the newspaper's City Hall reporter, he has no intention of slowing down or curtailing his activities before his successor is sworn in on July 1. But the immediate examples of this are two trips to Washington in the next two weeks, one to speak at the National Press Club about gun control, the other to attend President Obama's inauguration. If the mayor is sprinting to the finish, as the headline says, he is taking his usual circuitous route. As this page has said before, in at least one editorial about Villaraigosa's travels, his eight years in the city's top job will be judged by what he has done in Los Angeles, not what he has said in Washington news conferences, how he has expanded his national presence, and how he has encouraged speculation about his future.

Finally, in the "What was he thinking?" department, there's the media-driven kerfuffle over his appearance at Charlie Sheen's party in Cabo. It's a silly story, but one more example of astoundingly poor judgement. You'd think that a politician with his personal history would want to steer as far away from this scene as possible. Find a rain forest, a nunnery - any place but under the arm of The Machine. Yet there he is grinning like an aging frat boy. Even if nothing untoward happened, it just looks dumb - and looks count for a lot.


More by Mark Lacter:
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Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
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Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
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Maria Elena Durazo profile names a key name *
President Obama's arrival timed to rush hour (again)
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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