Two years ago, the summer of 2010, and the Tea Party was all the rage. “Taxed Enough Already!” they shouted, even though taxes hadn’t been raised – and some taxes even lowered as apart of the stimulus package. They railed against the “porkulus”, as the called the stimulus package that was intended to prevent the U,S. economy from falling into the depths of the Great Recession. They railed against the Wall Street Bailout, blaming Obama, Pelosi & Reid – even though it was proposed by GW Bush’s Secretary of Treasury, passed with support of Republicans in Congress, and signed into law by President Bush. They rallied against the rescue of the automobile industry, even though without millions of jobs would have lost and the Midwest rustbelt would have turned into a dustbowl. The Tea Party really wasn’t anything new – they were the same crusty, cranky conservatives that have always been around. Just a new name, some new faces, and some new targets for their anger. Here in southern Arizona Jesse Kelly won the CD8 GOP nomination fueled by Tea Party support and spouted off nonsense such as those on Social Security and Medicare were on the “public dole”, and that Government workers were “leeches”. We didn’t fall for that here in southern Arizoza (barely), but nationwide Republicans were swept into control of the U.S. House and many state legislatures and Governorships. So, have they saved us from the “excesses” of Obama and a Democratic Congress? Have they tackled our economic problems with innovative new initiatives freeing free enterprise from the “shackles” of government? Let’s take a look:
Swept into control of the House and gaining much more clout in the Senate, the GOP united behind a single goal. Was that goal to help Americans get back to work? No. Was their goal to work with Democrats to find areas on which they could agree and move the nation forward? Nope. Their common goal, as voiced by Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell was to ensure that President Obama was a one term president. McConnell said it was the “single most important thing we want to achieve”. So, almost nothing has passed in the Senate as the GOP invoked filibuster after filibuster, requiring 60 votes to even bring an issue to vote, and almost impossible task in face if united Republican opposition. They don’t want to do a single thing to help the American economy if it helps President Obama even the slightest. The House has passed little, and what they have passed they know cannot get passed in the Senate. The result? Stalemate. A Do Nothing Congress. What does the American public think of Congress? Public opinion of Congress has “rebounded” to a 10% favorability rating, after reaching an historic low of 9% favorability rating. Probably the Republican Congress’ “greatest” accomplishment was to take the U.S. Government to the brink of financial default over a senseless fight over raising the debt limit. The same Republican leadership that routinely raised the debt limit during the GW Bush Presidency now demanded that any increase in the debt limit be “offset” with spending cuts in the same amount. Republican leadership agreed that the spending cuts be applied equally to defense and domestic programs, unless a special Congressional Committee could come up with a plan on how to apply the cuts. Of course the committee couldn’t agree to anything, and the cuts begin to go into effect next year, part of what many economists call the “falling off financial cliff” and risk sliding the economy back to recession. And who do the Republicans now blame? It’s Obama’s fault, of course.
And how about those state legislatures and Governorships the GOP won? Have they made the economies better in their states, made lives better for their citizens? Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican controlled legislature thanked their corporate sponsors by passing tax cuts for business, which led to a budget shortfall. Then they used the phoney budget shortfall to attack state workers, cutting pensions and freezing wages. Walker survived a recall in recall weary Wisconsin by outspending his opponent 10 to 1 with corporate donations, but the voters had the wisdom to put Democrats back in control of the state senate to balance things out. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP controlled legislature came up with a way to circumvent democracy and the will of the voters. They passed a law which enables a panel selected by him to decide if a local government is in “financial stress” the panel selects an “emergency manager” to take over running that local government. The mayor, city councilmen, county supervisors elected by the voters no longer have any say in anything, what the “emergency manager” decides is what goes. Organizers secured almost twice the number if signatures required to put this measure on the ballot this fall, where it will likely be overturned. But the GOP controlled elections panel rejected the petitions, claiming they used the wrong font size. It took a Republican member of the state Supreme Court to agree with the Democratic court appointees that font size be damned, the petitions and signatures were valid and voters get to decide the issue. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett the GOP controlled legislature managed to reduce the state budget 3% – by cutting spending more higher education by 50%. Where did the rest go? More tax cuts for business, of course. Sound familiar, Arizonans? But even more ominous, the GOP attempted to guarantee their grip on power by passing a rigid voter ID law. An estimated 750,000 Pennsylvanian voters will be turned away from the polls this fall. And in a court challenge to the law the State of Pennsylvania couldn’t cite a single incident of in person voter fraud to justify the law. But for them the math is simple – those most likely not to have the required ID are those most likely to vote Democratic – the poor and the elderly living in cities and don’t drive a car. The hit list continues – Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the GOP legislature followed Scott Walker’s lead and went after unions and state workers. A successful petition drive led to the measure be out before the voters, who overwhelmingly rejected it. And the GOP also attempted to protect their grip on power by sharply curtailing early voting. Following the massive long lines in cities in the 2004 election caused by lack of polling places and voting machines, the Democratic legislature extended early voting days and hours, which lead to a tremendous increase in minority turnout in the 2008 elections. So once the GOP regained control they greatly reduced early voting, and are even attempting to impose early voting hours only 8-5 Mon.-Fri. in the urban counties (Democratic strongholds) while extending evening and weekend early voting in rural and suburban counties (Republican strongholds). Florida Gov. Rick Scott and a GOP state legislature? More of the same, spending cuts in education, tax cuts for business. Attempts to ensure their grip on power with Vote ID laws and reduced early voting.
How about right here in Arizona? The Republicans were swept into power with an absolute two-thirds majority in the state legislature along with Gov. Jan Brewer. Did they lead the charge for “smaller, more limited government”? No, they led the charge to expand government into the private lives and healthcare for women by passing a bill to prohibit abortions after the 18th week of pregnancy, a bill to protect doctors from being sued if they withhold health information about a pregnancy that could cause a woman to seek an abortion, and a bill to mandate that how school curriculum address the topic of unwanted pregnancies. They even passed a bill that lets the government define when the magic moment of life begins – for them, life begins at the end of a women’s last menstrual period. The GOP State School Superintendent demanded TUSD end the sacrilege of ethnic studies, while the GOP legislature voted to have the Bible taught in school. Other bills introduced by this awesome GOP 2/3rds super majority? A bill to limit what what teachers can say in the classroom. A bill to allow students and professors to carry guns on higher education campuses – I guess we’ll really make those professors watch what they say, but then at least they can shoot back. A bill that would help the state impound cars or suspend licenses of motorists who evade tolls on toll roads. What’s that you say? Arizona doesn’t have any toll roads? True, so far – but since those private prisons are working out so well maybe they’re thinking of privatizing ADOT and selling off the state highways. (See Caveat Lector’s blog Private prisons not saving us money – so why do we still have them?) Gov. Brewer and the GOP legislature had the financial genius to sell off the state capital and a number of state buildings and properties in 2009, to help balance the state budget. Earlier this year Gov. Brewer proposed buying the state capital back thinking it was a bit embarrassing for the state to be celebrating the 100th year of statehood wile meeting in a state capital building it only rents. It would only cost $105 million she said, money which the state had. The problem? The state only got $81 million when it sold it, so that’s the equivalent of paying $24 million in interest, a rate of almost 30%. Maybe the state should have just borrowed the money at a payday loan center?
Two years ago, the summer of 2010, and the Tea Party was all the rage. The Tea Party didn’t really bring anyone new into the Republican Party – Republican turnout in 2010 was about the same as it was in 2008 when John McCain lost decisively and Democrats gained seats in the House and Senate. Democratic turnout was down, as those voters motivated primarily by the prospect of an Obama Presidency stayed at home. But the largest factor in the Republican wave of 2010 was that Independents and Moderates swung heavily to the GOP. Well folks, it’s your turn at the bat again. What do you think of the Republican “accomplishments” of the last two years? What do you think of their priorities of tax cuts for business and the wealthy at the expense of education, healthcare, and police & fire protection? What do you think of the Republicans insisting that their morals and religious beliefs be passed into law and imposed on everyone else? What do you think of the Republican attempts to protect their grip on power at the expense of democracy with voter suppression? Are you better off then you were two years ago?