How Can the GOP Run American Government If They Hate It?
The coal country state of West Virginia is in the middle of a special legislative session to deal with a $270 million budget shortfall, and it's setting the stage for Republicans to completely gut the state's government.
It's the same playbook we've seen the right-wing carry out in Wisconsin, in Kansas, in Michigan, and in Ohio.
West Virginia is facing a massive budget deficit because of the collapsing coal industry and rising unemployment, and despite the recommendations of the Democratic governor, the Republican controlled legislature refuses to consider any new revenue sources.
The state is reeling right now, after House Democrats shot down a tobacco tax paired with a 1 percent sales tax increase that would disproportionately hurt low-income residents.
The Democrats wanted to see a higher tobacco tax and a lower sales tax increase, and the Republicans joined with them just because they simply hate any taxes that might be used to support poor people or improve the quality of life for working people.
So, what is the Republican answer to the budget shortfall?
Cut spending and gut the state government, of course!
West Virginia Republican Delegate Patrick Lane is one leader in the anti-American-government crusade in that state, and he's claiming that he can generate up to $150 million in savings by raiding the state's "rainy day fund," by cutting education at the regional and state level, and by privatizing highway "courtesy patrols," among other budget cuts.
If that sounds familiar, it should: it's "Reaganomics" at the state level.
For years now, Republican governors and legislatures have been using Reagan's tactics to destroy their state's economies while creating massive profits for large corporations and the super-wealthy.
Take Wisconsin, where Scott Walker cut taxes for the wealthy, went on an all-out assault on the University of Wisconsin system, and privatized everything from criminal justice to transportation in the state.
Walker's hate-American-government policies have raised tuition costs, depressed wages and destroyed many of the state's good paying jobs, and led to a $2.2 billion budget shortfall.
We've seen this play out with Sam Brownback's "economic experiment" that massively cut taxes on rich people, and thus destroyed public services in Kansas while providing Brownback with an excuse to raise taxes on the lowest 40 percent of earners.
And by the way, 6 years after starting his great experiment with the "red state model", Sam Brownback still refuses to raise taxes on the rich, and in 2016 the state was still $290 million short of a balanced budget.
Destroying American and local government, and refusing to raise taxes, is what directly led to the Flint water crisis after Snyder ended democracy in Detroit and Flint and instead appointed corporate crony "emergency managers" to privatize public services and gut spending for anything not used by rich people.
Even Ohio Governor John "Mr. Moderate" Kasich used his state budget deficit as an excuse to attack public unions, to privatize schools and prisons, and to end that state's inheritance tax.
And even though Kasich cut state spending, he also cut funding to townships and municipalities, meaning that local townships were forced to raise taxes on their working-class residents just to provide basic services like roads and water.
This isn't just the result of good intentions paving the road to economic hell.
The simple truth is that the Republican party hates American government in general, and they'll do everything in their power to break American government from the state level up, and from the federal level down.
They trod out tired lines like "Government isn't the solution! Government is the problem!"
But what they really mean is that they think American Government is the problem.
They'll never say it out loud, because they claim to be super-patriots clinging to the Constitution, but the reality is that they actually hate the government that our Founders set up.
Back in 1944, Vice President Henry Wallace warned us about people like Walker, Brownback, Snyder, Kasich, and all the Republicans in state legislatures who are manufacturing legislation on behalf of corporate interests and the billionaire class.
Wallace called them American Fascists and he wrote in the New York Times that "They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection."
Thanks to dark money organizations that explicitly bring together lobbyists and legislators, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, Republicans now control the executive branch and the legislative branch in 23 states.
And they're using that control to weaken our American government, the same American government that millions of Americans have fought for and died to defend over the course of American history.
The presidential election is important, but it's even more important that Americans vote the anti-American-Government Republicans out of state legislatures and governor's mansions.
As Americans, we need to call out Republican lies about American government, and come together to fulfill our Founders' vision for a prosperous American Democracy that honestly serves the interests of We, the People.