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IF MISERY REALLY does love company, Gov....


IF MISERY REALLY does love company, Gov. William Donald Schaefer should be happy. The London Economist points out that he has plenty of company among his confreres. The British )) journal also finds a little silver lining for beleaguered congressmen:

"As Washington's politicians sink ever lower in public esteem, they may cheer themselves with this thought: Outside the American capital, there are politicians who are despised with a venom that would startle even the most thick-skinned congressman."

They are, of course, the nation's governors. As the Economist points out, Congress can spend money it doesn't have, but the governors have to balance their budgets. "They must make painful political choices and suffer the consequences."

As its prime example, the Economist selects not the Maryland taxpayer's punching bag but his New Jersey counterpart, Gov. Jim Florio, whose popularity plunged even deeper than Mr. Schaefer's when he raised taxes several years ago.

"Like other governors, and like politicians in Washington, Mr. Florio is struggling with the puzzle posed by an electorate that wants generous government services but simultaneously demands a lowering of taxes.

"At the federal level, Congress and the president have evaded the difficulty by colluding in the creation of a huge government debt. In states like Massachusetts and Michigan, recently elected governors have concentrated on slashing services and keeping taxes down.

"Mr. Florio's emphasis, despite his bundle of cuts, has been on maintaining the volume and standard of services by increasing the state's tax take. At the moment the result of his efforts resembles that rarest of boxing maneuvers, the self-inflicted knockout."

No one's counted ten over Mr. Schaefer yet.

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