Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL- Those of us who hoped Dilma would quit dithering after S&P’s consigning Brazil to the investment community’s scrap heap have been proven wrong. One prime example is the Congressional vote Tuesday night on whether or not to override her vetoes.
Originally, because she thought her coalition did not have enough support to approve her vetos, she tried her darndest to have the vote postponed while she drummed up support. But then she had the bright idea to offer PMDB the Ministry of Health, the biggest money-spinner in all the thirty or more federal ministries, in exchange for not overriding her veto.
Upon getting a positive reaction to this blatant bribe, she pushed hard for votes and won at least 26 of them, including a few that are important economically. What did not happen, however, was a vote on the two most crucial vetoed measures (78 percent pay raises for judicial employees and tying pensions to minimum salary raises), both of which would explode the recently projected budget surplus.
Expect Dilma to dither over those vetos, because retirees and government employees form a large part of her popularity base. Large numbers of supporters of these inflationary measures were protesting outside Congress last night.
Dilma promised PMDB the Health Ministry, but she’s dithering over which PMDB personage should be appointed Minister. There are at least three well-entrenched internal factions within PMDB squabbling among themselves to determine which victor should receive the spoils.
Some of Dilma’s advisors had previously suggested that the Ministry of Health could go to PMDB as part of the announced ministerial “reform”. Dilma’s dithering can be explained by the fact that Cash Cow Health has long been the private fiefdom of PT, and within PT, the internal faction controlled by former President Lula.
Only when faced with the economic disaster that would be caused if her vetoes were overridden, did Dilma muster the courage to briefly stop dithering and face up to her former boss.
The Curmudgeon will emit more Smidgens opportunely, hopefully less dismal.