Their political philosophy may be abhorrent, their knowledge of American history and government may be nearly non-existent, and their grasp of reality may be tenuous at best, but I’ll give the Republicans elected by the members of the Tea Party movement a few months back this much: they’re not hiding their intentions. For decades we’ve had to listen as members of the Republican establishment promised to bring prosperity to the middle class, raise the standard of living for working people, protect the security of retirees. They talked a big game when election time rolled around, but did almost nothing, and often worked to ensure that Democrats didn’t accomplish much on those scores, either.
Ah, but those days may be over! Not the days of Republican politicians actively working against the interests of 90% of the country — those days are here to stay, it seems. The days of them pretending to give a shit about any of us — those days are coming to an end, thanks to the likes of newly elected governors Scott Walker and Rick Scott, of Wisconsin and Florida, respectively.
Let us first consider Walker, who has proposed to make up a $137 million shortfall in his state’s budget by stripping public employee unions of the right to negotiate over health and retirement benefits, and mandating an increase in worker contributions to pensions.
Walker describes the bill’s effects on government employees as a modest 8% pay cut. Earlier this week on his syndicated radio show, Fox News personality John Gibson and his producers/co-hosts were almost giddy at the prospect of the governor busting a labor union. It wasn’t Walker’s attempt to balance his budget that pleased them so; it was, as they stated over and over again during the show, the notion of abolishing the right to collective bargaining that thrilled Gibson and his cohorts. They aren’t alone. Neither is Scott Walker; newly elected governor of Ohio, John Kasich (himself a former Fox News host) wants to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees in his state, as well.
New Governor of Florida Rick Scott made the headlines twice today, for two separate unusually frank displays of contempt for the people of his state. First, he announced that he would reject $2.4 billion in federal funding to build a high-speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa, a project that would not only improve the infrastructure of Florida, which is home to some of the country’s most-visited tourist destinations, but also create an estimated 24,000 jobs.
Scott must have been feeling it, because today he also met with a delegation of black legislators and informed them that he had grown up poor, lived in public housing, raised by a father without much formal education — just like (he assumed) all of them.
“Some of us might be from the projects, but we come from all spectrums of life,” Rep. Joe Gibbons told a reporter from the Miami Herald after the meeting.
Sounds like an interesting lunch:
For an hour over lunch, the lawmakers voiced opposition to Scott’s plans to end state support for two historically black colleges, to abolish a state office that helps minority-owned businesses get state contracts and to lower unemployment benefits and health care funding for the poor. They also expressed concern that Scott so far has not appointed any black agency heads and asked him to stop using the term “Obamacare.”
Scott responded to the request that he refer to the health care reform bill by something resembling its official title (“the Affordable Health Care Act”) by complaining, “When I’m on Fox, they never call it that.” He also refused to budge on his plans to cut funding to historically black colleges, and abolish an office created to help minority-owned businesses get government contracts.
“We don’t have unlimited dollars,” said the governor who turned down $2.4 billion in federal funding. Scott also assured the legislators that creating jobs was his top priority.
So there you go! Undisguised contempt for the collective bargaining rights of public employees in one state, and unconcealed indifference to the needs of non-white citizens of another — moving from hiding despicable intentions to touting them for all the world to see. That’s a kind of progress, right?