Monday, May 27, 2013

What Happens When Voters Just Eliminate The Nihilist Republicans From Government?


Puppet Pat might want to call Jerry Brown and get a lesson in being a governor

California has no statewide Republicans in office. Many of the Democrats in the legislature are conservative corporate whores but at least the Republicans are relegated to the sidelines and can't even obstruct the smooth functioning of government any longer. In 2012, the Democrats won 2/3s majorities in each house of the legislature. They won 4 more seats in the state Senate, for a total of 29 to the GOP's 10. The Dems gained 3 Assembly seats, bringing the partisan split to 55 to 25. Republicans can no longer block anything in either body. Two years earlier the state elected Jerry Brown over big-spending Meg Whitman, who managed to get a mere 40.9% for the $140 million she spent out of her personal fortune.

So while in DC, anti-government ideologues on the far right-- particularly Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-DL) and Rand Paul (R-KY)-- are working, with a great deal of success, to gum up the workings of government functionality and to prevent an economic recovery, in Sacramento, the shriveled nihilist faction can... talk darkly among themselves and watch the state move forward. I hope you read the collection of IMs last night by economist Umair Haque on the nature of conservatism. It helps explain why the federal government is such a mess while California is thriving. California is kind of the opposite of what's happening to the people in North Carolina, who elected an all-Republican government which is failing miserably and making the state unlivable and the legislature veers off the ideological cliff.
Haque's Sunday follow-up
The state’s hard turn to the right comes less than five years after people took to the streets here to celebrate the 2008 victory of Barack Obama, the first Democratic presidential candidate to capture the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976. The win prompted Obama’s supporters to crow about the growing influence of progressive and minority voters not only in North Carolina but across the South.

But that euphoria is now a distant memory. Since the recession hit, North Carolina has been saddled with one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates. The bad times helped prepare the way for a carefully executed strategy, with big financial support from a major conservative activist, that helped the GOP win control of both chambers of the state General Assembly in 2010.

Those victories were capped last year when Republican Pat McCrory was elected governor, giving the party control of all levers of state government for the first time since 1870.

The victories were aided by the strong financial support of Art Pope, a multimillionaire who spent heavily in support of the state’s GOP candidates. The Institute for Southern Studies, a North Carolina-based research organization, said Pope’s advocacy network spent $2.2 million on 22 legislative races, winning 18. Overall, conservative organizations largely supported by Pope accounted for three-fourths of the outside money spent in North Carolina legislative races in 2010, according to the institute.

One of McCrory’s first acts after being elected governor was to install Pope, a former legislator, as the state budget chief. (The governor’s office declined to make Pope available for an interview.) And now, GOP lawmakers are moving swiftly to enact a long list of legislation they say is largely aimed at limiting government debt and snapping the state’s economy out of a years-long malaise.

Legislators have slashed jobless benefits. They have also repealed a tax credit that supplemented the wages of low-income people, while moving to eliminate the estate tax. They have voted against expanding Medicaid to comply with the 2010 federal health-care law. The expansion would have added 500,000 poor North Carolinians to the Medicaid rolls.

...Lawmakers are also considering proposals to reduce and flatten income tax rates while expanding the sales tax, perhaps to even include groceries and prescription drugs-- which some advocates see as a first step toward eliminating the state income tax.
North Carolina is in a hole and the GOP has shovels digging deeper, much, much deeper. Instead of looking to Art Pope's plans for plutocracy, it should be looking at the way California Democratic voters got rid of Schwarzenegger and taken the ability to block progress away from the Republicans and then went on to turn a $60 billion deficit into a $4 billion surplus.
The debate reflects uncertainty about whether the revenue is a one-time event, a result of state taxes on wealthy residents selling off investments at the end of last year to avoid increased costs as the Bush-era federal tax cuts expired. But it also illustrates philosophical differences about the role of government, about spending versus taxes and about the need, as Mr. Brown argued, to learn lessons from a decade in which many states saw the bottom fall out from their revenue collections.

“We’re seeing a change in conversation in state legislatures this year,” said Todd Haggerty, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. “They’re not talking about how to close a budget gap anymore, which is a welcome relief after years of that during and after the Great Recession. Rather, states are having conversations about how to allocate increased revenues.”

Nowhere does that battle promise to play out with more force and intricacy than in California, the state that underwent perhaps the most severe retrenchments in the country.

[Governor] Brown, a Democrat who has always had a fiscally conservative streak, is leading the don’t-pop-any-Champagne-corks brigade, saying that he would oppose significant increases in new spending and that the money should go into a rainy-day fund. His administration put out the lower $1.2 billion estimate.
Voting nihilists and crazed ideologues out of government makes government more successful for the citizens. North Carolina would do well do defeat every Republican on the ballot next year and get back on the road to prosperity.

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At 6:25 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Great post.

At 6:35 AM, Anonymous me said...

It's an old story - republican economic theories DON'T FUCKING WORK.

The belief that they do keeps hanging around like so many old urban legends. That is almost certainly due to the promotion of those theories by rich bastards trying to steal the rest of our money.

But the plain fact is, the economy does much better when conservatives - especially the current crop of wild-eyed lunatics - are not running things.

At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Juegos said...

he belief that they do keeps hanging around like so many old urban legends. That is almost certainly due to the promotion of those theories by rich bastards trying to steal the rest of our money.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Tim Brown said...

It's called wanting to cut the budget, so that we can actually afford it. LIBERTARIANS not Nihilist. Title is sensational in not accurate

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Dennis Jernberg said...

Tim Brown is a GOP troll. Repealing voting rights, establishing an official state religion, and repealing the welfare state in order to subsidize billionaire parasites is not "libertarian", not in the least. North Carolina is a plutocratic dictatorship owned by Art Pope. The post title is entirely accurate: since the GOP made class bigotry the entire basis of the state political system, nihilism is the thing to call it (like left-wing Russian Nihilism, in fact, only right-wing and tsarist: the Austrian School has a nostalgia for the Hapsburg emperors).

And (see my comment on the previous post) I wouldn't call a "free market" economic theory that defines marginal value as being created by an investor elite rather than the mass of consumers friendly to freedom, economic or otherwise. That aristocratic assumption has as its corollary the assumption that political tyranny is necessary for market freedom. My two examples from the Austrian School: Friedrich Hayek, close friend of the dictator Pinochet who cheered on the general's atrocities and conflated democracy with Communism; and "Scary" Gary North, free market theorist and totalitarian theocrat (head of the Dominionist cult, in fact; founder Rousas John Rushdoony, the Christian Right's Sayyid Qutb, was his father-in-law). If you're for restricting freedom to a wealthy elite that can afford to rent it, you're no libertarian.

The GOP platform comes down to corporatism: Stalinism for big business. The budget's not being cut, only redirected away from working people into the Swiss bank accounts of the corporate welfare kings.


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