When I think of Republicans, especially Republicans in power I think of incompetence beyond anyone’s worst nightmare. In their drive to enrich their wealthy donors, they push hard for cuts to any programs that help the poor and help maintain the middle class so they can cut taxes for the rich. Seems like there are as many examples of Republican incompetence especially in the nation’s governorships as there are grains of sand on a beach.
This week we have a couple of shining examples of Republican incompetence at their worst.
Here in Iowa old bumbley, stumbley Terry Branstad is sticking with his brilliant idea to take money from a tax earmarked for school improvement and use it for something else. It almost makes no difference what the something else is. This is the 3rd time in only 7 months that Branstad has taken aims at cutting school funds in some form or another. This is a game plan that has been used over and over again across the country to force the privatization or profitization of public schools systems.
Starve the beast it is called. The beast in this case is government. One of the largest governmental outlays in most states, Iowa included, is for public schools. Republicans believe that if they slowly take the money away from the school systems, the systems will eventually turn to a profitized system as a solution. They do so in what has been described as the “boil the frog” method. As a frog is cooked the heat is slowly turned up in such a way that when the frog finally realizes he is being boiled alive he is incapable of escaping because he is too far gone. By slowly removing money from the schools, schools must change how they function and will continue to do so until they no longer function.
So late June, Branstad vetoed a compromise from the legislature that would have given a much needed shot of one time money claiming Iowa could not afford it. Just a couple of months later Branstad moved unilaterally to cut a long existing tax on consumables for businesses. As stated by state Sen. Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City at that time:
Today, however, after large corporations lobbied him for a $37 million, on-going tax cut that legislators had rejected, Governor Branstad says Iowa can afford it. Furthermore, he says he doesn’t need the Legislature’s approval to do it.
“The agenda for the October 13 meeting of the Administrative Rules Review Committee reveals that the Branstad-Reynolds Administration is proposing a rule change to exempt consumable supplies used in manufacturing from the Iowa sales tax. If the Branstad-Reynolds Administration does not withdraw this rule, it will take effect on January 1, 2016, even though this $37 million annual tax cut has never been approved by the Iowa Legislature.
“This rule would change more than 15 years of existing policy.”
Less taxes = less money for schools.
Now Branstad wants the one percent sales tax that was long ago approved as earmarked for schools to be split for what he deems as a crisis of water quality in Iowa. There has been a crisis in water quality in Iowa for a long time. Branstad sees this as yet another opportunity to cut into school funding. If this attempt fails, expect another assault on school funding from the governor claiming some other crisis next year. Cutting school funding is his mission. All while claiming to be a friend of Iowa schools.
Meanwhile in Michigan, a real crisis of monumental proportions with toxic lead in the drinking water of Flint is being met with perhaps the worst leadership possible. What Flint needed was a leader who would have stopped the poisonous water from flowing into homes in Flint immediately when the problem was found. Then the legislature should have been called into session and money and manpower should have been dedicated to fixing what is a huge public health problem immediately.
Since Governor Snyder was part of the problem his first move as state leader was to try to hide the problem. His next order of business was to try to slough the blame onto someone else. Such tactics never work and are not doing so in the Flint crisis. Now, even at this late date Snyder still refuses to deal with reality and deal with Flint as the emergency it is. Instead he is offering Flint residents a discount for the poison that flows into their homes in the guise of water.
The connecting theme between Branstad and Snyder is that both are dedicated to continuing to deliver tax cuts to the rich. Cutting taxes for the wealthy is the connecting theme for incompetence in the Republican governor’s chairs across the country. Brownback in Kansas has driven his state to near bankruptcy in pursuit of cutting taxes while ruining public schools. Christie in New Jersey diverts federal money to cover huge budget holes. Bevin in Kentucky has already embarked on a path to take away health care from the poor and no doubt will slash other programs for the holy grail of tax cuts.