Friday Reads: Red State Hell Realm EditionPosted: January 11, 2013
I’m not sure a lot of you know what it’s like to have a Republican Governor these days implementing the Koch Brothers and ALEC agenda. I thought I’d focus a little bit on that. I hope those of you that live in Red States–like me–and are horrified at what’s coming down the pike in your neck of the woods will share. Yes. I just don’t stop writing about ALEC. I can’t. It’s like watching a train come down the track knowing that all of your friends are bolted right to it.
So, climate change is one of those topics where Republicans love to be deep in denial. What’s it like to be in one of the hottest Red States in the US and have a governor that’s basically ensuring that you’re in the fire or the frying pan? This one is for my birth state of Oklahoma where my Dad grew up during the worst of the dust bowl days. They have one of the dumbest damn Senators on the planet. Here’s the ever quotable and insane Jim Imhofe.
Oklahoma is another state that experienced its warmest year on record. The average temperature in the Sooner State was 63 degrees. The USDA today declared a drought disaster in 76 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.
When it comes to climate change denial, Republican senator James Inhofe takes the top prize for outrageous statements. His anti-environmental stances are even more dangerous because Inhofe serves as the ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and was its chairman from 2003 to 2007.
In a 2003 Senate speech, Inhofe said that “catastrophic global warming is a hoax.” Last year, Inhofe stated on a Christian radio show that the Bible refutes climate change, saying “God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”
Down here in Louisiana, we’re mired in a recession and have had our public health and education systems gutted to the point that the accrediting institution for LSU is asking if any one’s in charge of the system. So, what’s that freak of nature Governor Bobby Jindal up to? He wants to eliminate our state income taxes and corporate taxes. I have no idea how a got stuck in a Pinochet-like hell realm but here I am.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing the complete elimination of income and corporate taxes in the state, and says he wants to replace the revenue by increasing sales taxes.
The Times-Picayune reported that Jindal is in the process of fleshing out the tax reform proposal, the goal of which, according to a statement from the Governor’s office and given to the paper, “is to eliminate all personal income tax and all corporate income tax in a revenue neutral manner. We want to keep the sales tax as low and flat as possible.”
“Eliminating personal income taxes will put more money back into the pockets of Louisiana families and will change a complex tax code into a more simple system that will make Louisiana more attractive to companies who want to invest here and create jobs,” Jindal says in the statement.
“Tax reform will remove administrative burdens from families and small businesses and improve Louisiana’s business prospects; create more business investment opportunities with increased job growth; and raise the state’s profile in national business rankings,” the statement continues.
“The bottom line is that for too long, Louisiana’s workers and small businesses have suffered from having a state tax structure that is too complex and that holds back economic prosperity. It’s time to change that so people can keep more of their own money and foster an environment where businesses want to invest and create good-paying jobs.”
Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott has rejected the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. And now he’s in hot water for apparently inflating the cost of the expansion to Floridians in order to justify his decision.
The website Health News Florida reported Tuesday that Scott was warned in letters by the state legislature’s top economist and budget analyst that his administration’s figure — that the expansion would cost the state $26 billion over 10 years — was false.
Scott’s aide reportedly said, in emails obtained by HNF, that the figure was based on the assumption that the federal government — which is tasked with paying for the vast majority of each state’s Medicaid expansion for the first decade — would not fulfill its promise.
But after the report was published and caused a stir, including scathing criticism from Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Scott said through a spokeswoman that his Agency for Health Care Administration would consider alternate cost estimates.
“AHCA’s report concluded that adding people to Medicaid under the new law would cost Florida $26 billion over 10 years,” said Scott’s aide Melissa Sellers. “Others have asked AHCA to use different assumptions to calculate different cost estimates. We look forward to reviewing those cost estimates as well.”
Castor accused Scott — a former hospital executive who rose to national prominence in 2009 while campaigning against the ACA — of deliberately deceiving Floridians.
“Not only did Gov. Scott manufacture flawed cost estimates, but it appears he had been advised that the numbers were flawed and used them anyway,” Castor said in a statement. “Florida Legislative Appropriations staff advised the governor’s office that the numbers were misleading, but it appears that the governor ignored it. … Clearly this was not a mistake. Knowing that the numbers are wrong and using them anyway is.”
Both Jindal and Scott have lifted their agendas directly from ALEC. Wisconsin is another state being driven into developing nation status by rogue legislation designed to enrich the wealthy. Here’s a list of bills to watch for in that state.
Wisconsin’s 2011-2012 legislative session saw the introduction of 32 bills or budget provisions reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation — including Governor Scott Walker’s contentious attack on public sector collective bargaining, voter ID legislation, and bills that make it harder for Americans to hold corporations accountable when their products injure or kill — and 19 of those proposals became law.
What pieces of the ALEC playbook might be on the agenda for the 2013-2014 session, which began this week?
One of my favorite Louisiana Bloggers –Professor Robert Mann–has read and reported on the “snake oil” agenda of ALEC and how it’s impacted the economic viability of the states I grew up in. This study comes from the state of Iowa where I spent most of my grade school days and where my dad was a small town Ford dealer. Here’s a great synopsis that discusses how that trickle-down, voodoo economics is bad for state economies. I’ve written many times about the Laffer curve and its absurd hypothesis which has been refuted by study-after-study. This should be just one more nail in the voodoo economics coffin.
That scrutiny comes in the form of a November 2012 report by the Good Jobs First and Iowa Policy Project, “Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity.” The report, written by Greg LeRoy and Philip Mattera, concludes:
A hard look at the actual data finds that the Alec-Laffer recommendations not only fail to predict positive results for state economies—the policies they endorse actually forecast worse state outcomes for job creation and paychecks. That is, states that were rated higher on ALEC’s Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007, based on 15 “fiscal and regulatory policy variables,” have actually been doing worse economically in the years since, while the less a state conformed with ALEC policies the better off it was.
Read the report for yourself. It’s a treasure-trove of evidence debunking the whole wacky supply-side economic theories that have governed the Republican Party for the past 30 years. But here are a few helpful excerpts that are particularly relevant to those of us who live in states, like Louisiana, with governors totally beholden to the corporate interests that are selling this economic snake oil.
ALEC-Laffer claim that lowering state and local taxes produces much greater job growth; in actuality, such taxes are such a tiny cost factor for businesses, and come with higher taxes on others or lower quality public services, that such a strategy fails
ALEC-Laffer claim that a low top personal income tax rate is a key to small business success; in actuality, property and sales taxes—ignored by ALEC-Laffer—are far more important issues
ALEC-Laffer claim that high top personal income tax rates and the presence of estate and inheritance taxes cause large-scale out-migration of high-income individuals; in reality, migration has little to do with taxes, and there is no plausible case for state estate taxes affecting job-creating investment
The ALEC report asserts that state tax rates in many instances approach “Laffer Curve” territory, where tax cuts would actually increase tax revenue; in reality, tax cuts reduce revenue and result in the defunding of public goods such as education and infrastructure, which really do matter for economic development
A remarkable finding in the Iowa Policy Project report, stated a few paragraphs above, is worth repeating: states that swallowed ALEC’s economic snake oil have done worse than state that did not.
. . . actual results are the opposite of the ALEC claim. The more a state’s policies mirrored the ALEC low-tax/regressive taxation/limited government agenda, the lower the median family income; this is true for every year from 2007 through 2011. . . . The relationship is not only negative each year, it also became worse over time: the better a state did on the ALEC Outlook Ranking, the more family income declined from 2007 to 2011. . . . The more a state followed the Alec-Laffer policies, the higher its poverty rate, every year from 2007 to 2011.
And what do Fisher and Mattera prescribe in lieu of the ALEC snake oil? Well, they advise against slashing income taxes to spur small business job growth, explaining
Income taxes, on the other hand, are low or nonexistent in the early years of a business when it is showing losses; they are payable only to the extent that a business has gotten off the ground and is generating a profit, and even then will often remain low, or nonexistent, for years as the early losses are carried forward. Clearly if a state wants to encourage entrepreneurship and help really small businesses, it should shift taxes from sales and property to income. But Rich States, Poor States would have us do the reverse. It’s another example of how ALEC and Laffer are fixated on progressivity (which most affects high-income individuals and larger corporations) and will employ any argument, valid or not, against it.
For those interested in learning what really does spur economic growth in states, the authors of the Iowa Policy Project study note that there exists “a large volume of research investigating this question over the past 40 years.” And what is the conclusion of these studies?
The preponderance of the evidence from many dozens of studies over a period of 30 years or more is that business tax cuts, if they could be enacted without cutting public spending, have some positive growth effect on state economic growth, but that this effect is quite small. These statistically controlled policy experiments are in effect holding all else equal. It is important to understand what this means. The research does not imply that a 10 percent cut in taxes on business that is paid for by cutting 10 percent of the state budget would produce 3 percent growth. Such a balanced budget policy (and states of course must balance their budgets) might well produce no growth at all, especially in the long run, because budget cuts necessarily mean cuts in state and local services essential to the functioning of the economy. As [Professor Timothy] Bartik himself has said: “[A]n economic development policy of business tax cuts may fail to increase jobs in a state or metropolitan area if it leads to a deterioration of public services to business. An economic development policy of tax increases may succeed in increasing jobs if it significantly improves public services to business.”
The authors’ conclusion is fairly simple and impressively substantiated in their report: ALEC’s snake oil does little more than provide “a recipe for economic inequality and declining incomes for most citizens and for depriving state and local governments of the revenue needed to maintain public infrastructure and education systems that are the underpinnings of long-term economic growth.”
That’s also a very nice summary of Jindal’s failed approach to government.
What really makes this so shameful is that these Banana Republic-style agendas are being subsidized by Blue States. There are very few economically viable Red States in our country. They could not exist on their own as they are in worse shape than countries like Greece. They stymie policy at the national level and continue to subsidize their backward growth agendas with federal monies. However, they are not beyond complaining about government spending will sucking it in like a big ol’ black hole.
Palazzo is one of 67 House Republicans to have voted against the federal flood insurance expansion; many of those said that the funds need to be offset by cuts to other areas of the federal budget. Think Progress reported that 37 of the dissenting members had previously backed federal disaster aid for their home states. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), the House Republican Conference vice chairwoman, told HuffPost in a statement that she voted against the flood insurance money due to concerns about the long-term debt of the flood program and a need to protect flood insurance funding for Kansas residents.
It’s amazing to me that so many folks living in the states where I’ve spent most of my life do not wake up and smell the cafe au lait and the feed lots! I’ve always found the scent of both very hard to miss.
Meanwhile, red districts and states continually send us the likes of Michelle Bachmann with their conspiracy theories and insane outlook on life. Bachmann’s silly ass is right back in a seat on the intelligence committee despite the very clear threat she has brought to he life of US public servants.. She also introduce the first HR that once again seeks to overturn the HCRA. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan has just introduced another “Personhood” HR. This is what we get from these Red State Whackadoodles.
It’s amazing to me how these people continually waste our money and time while wrecking our economy with completely rogue and disproved ideology. It’s clear that the ALEC agenda is all about plumping us turkeys up for their corporate feasts.
So, I’ve written way too much and ranted way too long. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?