What Happens When GOP Economic Fairy Tales are Applied to the Real World.
A piece in the New York Times this weekend compared the economic fates of Wisconsin and Minnesota, two states that were in roughly similar economic condition in 2012. Minnesota elected a Democratic government, while Wisconsin chose Republicans. And it was with this choice that the two neighboring states’ fortunes began to diverge.
Three years into Mr. Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker promised to produce 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth. Mr. Walker’s defenders blame the higher spending and taxes of his Democratic predecessor for these disappointments, but according to Forbes’s annual list of best states for business, Wisconsin continues to rank in the bottom half.
Along with California, Minnesota is the fifth fastest growing state economy, with private-sector job growth exceeding pre-recession levels. Forbes rates Minnesota as the eighth best state for business. Republicans deserve some of the credit, particularly for their commitment to education reform. They also argue that Minnesota’s new growth stems from the low taxes and reduced spending under Mr. Dayton’s Republican predecessor, Tim Pawlenty. But Minnesota’s job growth was subpar during Mr. Pawlenty’s eight-year tenure and recovered only under Mr. Dayton.
Trust me, it sucks when your state is used as an example of economic failure. While Walker complains that previous higher taxes and spending are dragging the state down (a tough argument to make — the mechanics are so bad he doesn’t even bother to explain them), Minnesota has raised taxes and spending to great success. And that spending has been distinctly Keynesian. NYT reports that the “lion’s share of Minnesota’s new tax revenue was sunk into human capital.” Wisconsin, of course, has been anti-Keynesian, reaching into workers’ pockets to take pay and benefits away.
And that’s where conservative economic policies fail. One way of looking at Republican economic theories is to say that any government involvement in the economy is bad. Why? Well, I actually haven’t heard a good explanation of that. It just is. It seems to be less of a logical argument and more of a moral one — i.e., progressive taxation is unfair, as is providing some sort of even minimal safety net. Where they used to argue that taxation was metaphorical theft, they now argue that it’s literal theft. Taxation and social programs have been lifted out of the “good or bad for society” argument, because conservative can’t win that argument. History proves again and again that progressive taxation and social spending are to the common good. They “promote general the welfare,” to use a phrase from the preamble — i.e., the mission statement — of the Constitution.
If it’s “unfair” to tax the wealthy and corporations at a higher rate, in order to at least try to guarantee a bearable level of existence for those in need, then cry me a freakin' river, moneybags. If the right were really as objective as they claim to be, they'd argue that fair and unfair are irrelevant. What matters is “works” or “doesn't work.”
Of course, if they really were that objective, conservative economics would’ve died the first time Reagan raised taxes.
But Reaganomics lumbers, zombie-like, on — both dead and brainless. And it’s because the argument isn’t so much a recipe for a healthy economy — or even for basic fairness — but a rationalization for allowing a small number of very fortunate people to transfer wealth from the bottom to the top. In Wisconsin, that means cutting benefits for workers and the poor to pay for new goodies for the wealthy. What’s that gotten us? An economy in a downward spiral, as workers no longer have any money to spend and demand drops. And of course, cutting spending while you’ve made certain consumer demand will plummet is like drilling holes in an already sinking boat; you’ve already poked a hole in the hull by taking money away from workers and now you’re further reducing demand by cutting government spending.
In short, what Walker has done is a recipe for destroying an economy and — lo and behold — it’s working. We need to be more like those crazy lefties across the Mississippi, who care less about what whiny one-percenters think is “unfair” and more about what works for everybody
[photo by Nick Ares]
Another day, another story of Republican racism.
The Chisago County Republican Party drew national attention Wednesday after posting an illustration of a slave auction with the caption, “Pro Choice: Against Slavery? Don’t buy one.”
The illustration mimics a slogan about abortion sometimes seen on pro-choice bumper stickers.
The group removed the Facebook post from its page early Wednesday afternoon, and then removed its page entirely a few hours later.
But the county GOP later restored its Facebook page, with an apology.
And that apology is BS. “The Chisago County Republican Party is very sorry that something so clearly improper (either intended or in poor taste) ever made it to our page,” the group wrote in a statement. “Postings like this are not representative of our party.”
Not representative of your party? I see stories like this one every few days. This is totally representative of your party. Republicans would be a lot better off if they took all the energy they invested in whining about how unfair it is that everyone calls them racist and used it instead to stop being so goddam racist.
Stories to Watch: 5/31/13.
As always, hover your cursor over the links to see the headlines as a tooltip. And as long as I’m posting reminders, the majority of these stories come from the Progressive News Must-Read Superfeed [rss].
Before she announced that she wouldn’t run for reelection, Michele Bachmann paid out a $8,000 fine to the FEC for financial disclosure violations. This was a penalty she agreed to — which also included agreeing to “send a representative to an upcoming FEC training, develop a compliance manual within three months, and have an external compliance firm review reports for the next two years.” In short, it was an admission of guilt. A few weeks later, she was done.
After would-be Bachmann opponent Jim Graves also dropped out of the running, Minnesota Democrats were left looking for a candidate. Minnesota Public Radio’s Bob Collins has a good piece on the Graves’ announcement — and the people he’s undoubtedly disappointed.
Wonkette takes a look at the people Republicans may run instead of Bachmann and they all seem sufficiently nutty.
There’s a Battle of the Sexes going on over at Fox News. The men are sexist and the women don’t like it. Erick Erick decides the smart thing to do is crank up the piggishness and just make everything a hundred times worse. You can tell he wants to be the next Andrew Breitbart, but he can’t seem to pull off the unhinged rage-aholic act — so he just comes across as a classless boob.
Progressives and backers of real comprehensive immigration reform worry that the Gang of Eight is giving too much away in order to get a 70-vote superduper-majority. The idea with the 70-vote goal is to cow House Republicans and create momentum. Like House Republicans give a crap about anything other than their own (lunatic) opinions.
John McCain — who always has a hardon for war — visited Syria in an attempt to embarrass Pres. Obama into becoming more deeply involved in that conflict. That hasn’t gone so well, since McCain was himself embarrassed by getting caught posing for a photo with an ethnic sectarian terrorist. “We can help the right people,” McCain said of the conflict, then got caught posing for a photo with the wrong person — all of which points to the difficulty of separating the good guys from the bad guys in this. “This should give everyone pause when it comes to ramping up support for the rebels by arming them.” says Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org. If we start arming rebels, those arms could help spur ethnic cleansing. McCain’s office said he had no idea these people were anti-Shiite sectarian kidnappers, which is really the whole problem in the first place.
Here’s a real shocker: rightwing media is running wild with a completely bullshit story about the former IRS commissioner and White House visitor logs.
After voters decriminalized marijuana, police in Washington state are having to retrain police dogs to ignore pot.
If a Wisconsin Republican tells you they’re against big, intrusive government, go ahead and laugh in their face — for hours.
Oprah uses her Harvard commencement speech to push for stronger background checks. A sense of foreboding was no doubt felt at NRA HQ.
Finally, the Illinois House adjourns without passing marriage equality legislation. The heartbreaking part: when the bill’s sponsor Rep. Greg Harris said the vote would have to wait until Novemeber, the “short speech was interrupted by shouts of protest from same-sex couples who came to Springfield in hopes of witnessing history.” Apparently, some who said they supported the bill suddenly wanted to delay it, leaving Harris and many Illinois couples high and dry.
[cartoon via USA Today]
Basically, after all that’s gone on, and with Michele Bachmann now stepping down, I’ve been talking to my friends and family and frankly, the feeling is, ‘Mission Accomplished.’ She wasn’t representing the people of the 6th District appropriately, and now she won’t be representing them. There’s no way anyone could run and win who would be worse than Michele Bachmann. So we accomplished that task.
Would-be Michele Bachmann opponent Jim Graves, announcing he is likewise pulling out of the race.
He’s basically putting a spin on the fact that he believes the seat was winnable only so long as Bachmann was the Republican candidate. For anyone else, gerrymandering will probably keep the seat from being competitive a little while longer.
Bachmann’s Career Dies as it Lived — Running Scared from Any Hint of Accountability.
During her presidential run, soon-to-be former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann developed a reputation for having a rocky relationship with the press. It wasn’t so much the media’s fault, as it was Shelly’s.
Dylan Stableford, Yahoo! News (Aug., 2011): CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon says that Marcus Bachmann, the husband of Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, and two members of her campaign staff pushed him into a golf cart during a campaign stop at the Iowa state fair in Des Moines before Bachmann’s victory in Saturday’s straw poll.
“She came out, after speaking for just a couple minutes,” Lemon said on CNN. “There were other reporters and cameras there. And I asked her very respectful questions: ‘How do you think you did in the debate last night?’ and ‘How do you think you’re going to end up in the Ames Straw Poll?’ And her two campaign aides started elbowing me.”
Lemon continued: “I told them, asked them not to elbow me. And then her husband Marcus started doing the same thing. And then he elbowed me into the cart. And I said, ‘You just pushed me into the cart.’ And he goes, ‘No, you did it yourself.’”
The entire incident struck Lemon as odd, since he was just doing general reporting. “We weren’t asking any ‘gotcha’ questions,” he said. The same story covers a similar incident with ABC’s Brian Ross, who was “manhandled” by Bachmann security after asking a question about Bachmann’s tendency toward migraine headaches.
“I was never closer than 10 or 12 feet to her,” Ross said later. “The people around her recognized me and came up and identified themselves as with the staff said they knew who I was. And the blocking was all about me. Other cameraman, other reporters were allowed to get close.” See, Ross is scary because he’s ABC’s investigative reporter.
More recently, Bachmann was almost literally chased around the capitol by CNN’s Dana Bash. Bash wasn’t trying to get a comment on the FEC probe into Bachmann’s presidential finances, but was simply trying to get her to clarify a false statement about Pres. Obama blowing taxpayer money on a lavish lifestyle.
In case you haven’t gotten the point yet, Michele Bachmann is not a courageous individual. When the going gets tough, Bachmann gets going — and by “gets going,” I mean “takes off running.”
So it’s less than surprising that Shelly would dodge her electorate as well. Facing a strong headwind in her reelection bid and a challenger who nearly beat her the last time around, Bachmann did what she always does when faced with a tough fight — laced up her running shoes.
“This serves to show that even Rep. Bachmann is hearing that Minnesota’s 6th is ready for a new, business-oriented approach,” her 2012 and 2014 opponent Jim Graves said “As recent polling indicates, our message is resonating with the people of the 6th District and she recognized that. She must also have recognized that it would be an uphill battle for her going forward. People are eager to be represented by a common-sense business person who understands the economy from the inside out.”
It wouldn’t surprise me if we later found out that Bachmann quit under pressure from her own party. Romney won her district with 56% in the same cycle that she nearly lost. That district is changing, but it’s still pretty red. And a different Republican might be able to win and hold onto it for another one or two terms, maybe — before the gerrymandering is undone. If there was pressure, it wouldn’t be a surprise that she gave in. Demagogues are people who pretend to have courage, not people with actual spines.
Late night talk show hosts will probably throw a wake for Shelly the Walking Punchline and a few teabagger chumps will mourn, but not many others will. If she’s remembered at all in history other than as a footnote, it will be as a prime example of a hamhanded demagogue who lied far too easily and who went to great lengths to avoid responsibility for those lies.
[photo via Wikimedia Commons]