3-17-11 We are all Wisconsin
Confused by recent events in the Midwest? Don’t be—behind Conservatives smokescreen of self congratulatory rhetoric and talk of fiscal responsibility lies a sea of unconstitutional power grabs and no-bid corporate giveaways. Their actions were never about balancing budgets.
The economic crisis this country experienced from 2007-09 was precipitated by irresponsible Wall Street financiers; aided and abetted by intentionally inept regulators & legislators, along with the hidden cost of 2 unfunded wars, and unnecessary tax cuts for the rich. Republicans “shock doctrine” economic policies of fiscal belt tightening in the name of reducing the debt ensure that only a few select corporations and individuals will benefit.
Behind all their talk of “fiscal responsibility” is an obsession with controlling state legislatures and Congress, not creating jobs, or even balancing budgets. What they are attempting to do is to turn the country staunchly conservative in state after state on every issue, legally and permanently.
Meanwhile, state and local municipalities are facing a sharp drop in revenues, increased demand for services, a loss of recovery funds and are facing unprecedented deficits. During the final three months of last year, state & local government cuts reduced growth by .5 %.
Economists predict states will cut an additional 2.5 % this year, and estimate these cuts will exert a bigger economic drag than last year’s cuts, with 900,000 jobs lost. December’s “unemployment compromise” extending tax cuts for the rich will cost states an additional $11 billion in lost tax revenue over the next two years.
Congressional conservatives significantly increased the deficit during the Bush era while simultaneously decreasing revenue with irresponsible tax cuts. When those chickens finally came home to roost, they pleaded for even more cuts. Even our feckless congressman Eric Cantor acknowledges that 700,000 jobs would be lost if these Congressional proposals are enacted. While House Speaker John Boehner’s response was, “So be it.”
Wasn’t their plan to be laser focused on creating jobs, and promoting an economic recovery?
In states across the Midwest Republicans have demonstrated their intent to take this country back to the Gilded age to a time when there the robber barons ruled the land. Make no mistake about what is happening, these efforts are part of a well funded RICO like effort by the folks like the Koch Brothers to make these changes permanent.
It’s no coincidence that these states have proposed or passed legislation abridging citizen’s rights across the spectrum: voter access, collective bargaining, woman’s reproductive rights, and the legal status of immigrants & gays, while similar legislation is being introduced in Congress.
In Michigan, the Republican controlled legislature voted to allow the Governor to appoint individuals, called “Emergency Managers” for financially troubled cities. These managers have the power to rewrite labor agreements, city & town budgets and service contracts, and invalidate local elections, denying municipalities control of their own destinies. http://readersupportednews.org/video/4-video/5346-rachel-maddow-michigans-dystopian-corporate-republican-future
If this clandestine corporate takeover of local governments is allowed to flourish in other states, American life will become unrecognizable in a remarkably short time.
After a state wide referendum overturned this heinous law in 2012, the Republican dominated legislature took advantage of an extended inflamed duck session to “repeal” this referendum and make this Emergency Manager a permanent feature of Michigan’s “law.” Passing some 282 bills through in a couple of weeks, far more than they did during the entire year. http://www.eclectablog.com/2012/12/michigan-republicans-prove-their-hypocrisy-on-small-government-by-passing-282-bills-during-lame-duck-session.html
Not to be outdone, they followed those actions up by making it virtually impossible for the citizens to recall any state legislator in the future. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/19/1171906/-At-2AM-Last-Friday-Michigan-Changed-its-Recall-Laws-to-Inoculate-the-GOP
Since the Supreme Courts Citizens v. United decision opened the flood gates for unrestricted corporate contributions, Republicans and Democrats alike have become enthralled to the interests of the financiers, and the wealthy, and less responsive to their constituents. It’s no coincidence that both parties are proposing remarkably similar legislative solutions.
Deficits aren’t the reason why our economy is doing so poorly, it’s a lack of demand caused by declining wages and high unemployment. That is the problem.
When it comes to deficits, at the Federal and state level we haven’t been spending too much, we’ve been spending too little, particularly when it comes to infrastructure. With interest rates at an historic all time low, if there was ever a time to borrow and embark on rebuilding our infrastructure it would be now.
For several decades, working class Americans have been getting an increasingly smaller share of the nation’s total income, while corporations and the super rich have been getting even more of it, while contributing a steadily-declining share of their wealth in taxes. In a fair and just society, these free riders would be giving back more to the nation, and the states and communities they profit from.
How society deals with human capital issues like chronic under employment, and the lack of wage growth should be a greater priority than reducing a manufactured deficit crisis—a deficit which incidentally will continue to grow as long as there is insufficient ability of consumers to purchase the goods and services that drive our economy. Especially when coupled with a rigged economic system that allows the ultra wealthy and corporations to extract the middle classes wealth at little or no cost.
A budget isn’t just a legal document, it’s a moral one. It’s not subversive to challenge politicians when they are using their fake deficit crisis’s to attack the poor, the disabled and the elderly-it’s a Christian responsibility.
Nearly 4 years after this letter was first written, little has changed in Virginia as we head into 2015. Republicans “reduce the deficit” sleight of hand continues with budgetary deceptions like the General Assembly saddling the citizens of the Commonwealth with yet another hidden expense in the form of increased prices at the gas pump.
A new class of revenue which dares not call itself a tax increase will automatically kick in because the state was unable to collect revenue from internet sales, a source of income intended to address the states chronic underfunding of transportation projects.
It should be noted that this new source of transportation “revenue” was built around the false premise that Congress would pass legislation by the end of this year which would simplify and compel state sales tax collections on online purchases. Since that never had had any realistic chance of happening in Congress, taxes on sales of gas at the pump will automatically increase on January 1st from 3.5% to 5.1%, an increase of roughly 5 cents per gallon.
This tax that dare not speak its name will do relatively little to when it comes actually improving the states chronic under funding of transportation. According to an analysis from the Commonwealth Institute, this increase would bring in $783 million over five years, but would not fully replace the $978 million in projected revenue from the online sales legislation.
The Institute also found the amount of sales tax revenue designated by the transportation fund would be capped at 2015 levels instead of rising, reducing transportation funds by an additional $220 million by 2018. http://www.tricities.com/news/article_5e126508-777e-11e4-a96e-b3bfea76db53.html
This “tax” barely passed the Republican dominated House by a vote of 60 to 40, with few Republican’s crossing over to vote for it. The following year, one of the few who did, the Republican chair of the Transportation committee Joe T. May was primaried out of office by a radical tea party candidate.
His party later denied him any chance of running as a Republican for an open Senate seat by holding a closed caucus vs. an open primary, and he was drummed out of the party for not being sufficiently “conservative”.
Democratic Delegate Brenda Pogge, summed the General Assemblies vote, saying that “we kicked another can down the road.” After approving across the board state budget cuts of 5% this year and 7% the following year it’s clear they are passing the real cost of these cuts … ahem budget reductions downward to the counties and incorporated towns.
It should also be noted that the strategy the General Assembly is determined to pursue is remarkably similar in design to the infamous Sequester which automatically made draconian cuts to the federal budget should the Republican House not be able to agree on a budget. An assumption which predictably lead to a further slowing down of our already fragile economy.
Meanwhile Republicans in the House of Delegates and especially after taking control of the Senate earlier this year are disingenuously claiming that these cuts are the only way to reduce the size of the states budget deficit—a deficit crisis which incidentally was created by their earlier irresponsible tax cuts during the McDonnell administration.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the Republican budget supposed to create jobs, and promote an economic recovery in Virginia?
Readers of the Central Virginian should be demanding that their representatives start fixing the states problems.