Have you ever stopped to wonder why so many right-wing Republican governors around the country pursue policies that are creating economic disasters for their own states? You should.
What if they’re not simply stupid people? What if they know exactly what they’re doing? What if they’re wrecking their own states’ economies on purpose? That’s something far more frightening than mere stupidity.
Those questions are of special importance in Wisconsin right now. The two most prominent national examples of extremist Republican governors implementing disastrous economic programs are Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
To comprehend why any elected official in his right mind would want to damage his own state’s economy, you have to realize that despite everything they say Republicans love enormous government deficits.
Republicans are playing a long game. Enormous government deficits are a perfect excuse to do exactly what extremist, anti-government Republicans are eager to do anyway.
That’s to cut government programs that help anyone who is poor, disabled, temporarily unemployed or simply not wealthy enough to contribute millions of dollars to Republican re-election campaigns. That frees up lots of government money for Republicans to distribute to their wealthy financial supporters in enormous tax cuts.
Obviously Republican governors have to make up some fake cover story to justify openly destroying the jobs and wages of working people and damaging their own state economies.
And they’ve come up with a whopper.
Walker, Brownback and other Republicans claim to believe something economists know really isn’t true. They say that drastically cutting taxes for their states’ wealthiest citizens and largest corporations will create enormous wealth at the top (right so far) that eventually “trickles down” into a successful, booming economy for everybody (nope).
No one really knows whether Republican politicians actually believe that falsehood.
With Walker becoming a presidential candidate, passing out enormous tax cuts and huge economic windfalls to rich folks conveniently also happens to be a sure-fire way to get hundreds of millions of dollars back in campaign contributions.
Brownback announced upon becoming governor he intended to “experiment” on Kansas to prove once and for all that giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy would somehow magically increase state revenues instead of reducing them.
That, of course, sounds totally illogical because it is. But Brownback bet his entire state’s economy on it. He cut his state’s top tax rate for wealthy taxpayers by 29% and exempted the owners of 191,000 state businesses from income taxes altogether.
What a shocker when it turned out that instead of creating a skyrocketing Kansas economy, those steep tax cuts resulted in a massive loss of $700 million in state revenues in one year.
Instead of investing all their enormous good fortune into business expansion and new jobs, wealthy Kansans decided to keep all those millions of dollars, you guessed it, for their own wealthy selves.
As a result, Kansas public schools in at least eight districts closed a month early this spring when they ran out of money. Kansas continues to teeter on the brink of bankruptcy.
Walker Creates Disasters to Help His Career
The irony is that massive government failures, even their own, are music to the ears of anti-government Republican extremists like Brownback and Walker.
Walker is a master at creating and using economic disasters to achieve his own political ends, such as destroying unions, gutting educational spending, reducing health care, removing environmental protections and ending regulation of corrupt business and campaign practices.
Walker used the $3.6 billion state budget deficit he inherited thanks to the second worst Republican economic crisis in U.S. history as an excuse to destroy collective bargaining rights for public employees and take those billions directly out of the paychecks of public workers and, consequently, his own state’s economy.
When that worked so well, Walker created a brand-new multi-billion-dollar state deficit all his own with a corrupt jobs agency passing out free “economic incentives” to corporations and huge tax cuts going overwhelmingly to the wealthy.
Just like Brownback, Walker promised fattening up his wealthy supporters would lead to an economic bonanza of a quarter of a million new jobs in his first term. And just like Brownback, Walker fell flat on his face.
Wisconsin’s economy continues to trail most other states, ranking 40th in job growth and 42nd in wage growth.
The economic hits to Wisconsin just keep coming with a proposal to eliminate prevailing wage laws to make it easier for low-wage, out-of-state companies to win public construction jobs from Wisconsin workers and another proposed tax cut exclusively for the wealthy.
In Kansas, mainstream Republicans are finally starting to flee in horror from Brownback’s economic destruction. Wisconsin Republican legislators dismantled major parts of Walker’s nasty budget, but they still don’t have the courage to identify his agenda for what it really is: intentionally destroying jobs, wages and Wisconsin’s economy to boost his status among small-minded, anti-government Republican primary voters.
Sadly, this article only encompasses the trouble economic outlook of 2 states. Thanks to ALEC, the Koch brothers, and other out-of-control agents of destruction. This article addresses some of the others:
Republicans Have Become the Party of Red Ink
The GOP is the party of tax cuts, but that strategy could be leading to deficits in some red states.
"For most of modern U.S. political history, Republicans in general have cast themselves as the party of fiscally responsible governance, adhering to a simple equation: low government spending plus tax cuts – the bigger, and broader, the better – equals all-but-guaranteed economic growth and full government coffers.
Look at states governed by Republicans, however, and it seems that the GOP might need a collective refresher course in economics, if not general math.
Five years after the economic recession wreaked havoc on their budgets, at least a dozen red states are awash in red ink, facing nine- and ten-figure deficits heading into the new fiscal year. That's led GOP governors who won office by pledging fiscal responsibility, and bans on new taxes, to slash spending on everything from education to the environment while simultaneously increasing the financial burdens for the poor, along with the use of accounting sleight-of-hand to make the books look better..."