Four years ago after the 2012 general election former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said Republicans have to stop being the stupid party. But Jindal likely knew that since the Republican base is inherently stupid, GOP candidates have to at least appear stupid to connect with its stupid supporters across the nation. Now, those stupid Louisiana voters who dutifully elected Jindal and Republicans to run the state into the ground are going to suffer even more economically, and personally, because the Republican legislature is making them pay higher taxes to try to save the state.
On Wednesday this column reported that due to Jindal and Republicans’ outrageous tax cuts for the rich and corporations, “Louisiana may soon fundamentally cease to function as a state.” The state’s new Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, had to convene a second emergency session of the legislature this week to attempt to prevent the state’s trickle down demise. The big task was finding over a billion dollars in revenue to cover running the state for the rest of the fiscal year ending in three months. The Republican legislature also had to find an additional $2 billion for the next fiscal year just to keep the government’s lights on.
The Republican legislature came up with a typically Republican plan that preserved Jindal’s tax cut largesse for the rich and corporations. And, like a typical Republican plan, it is the poorest Louisiana residents who will suffer and pay to “possibly” save the state from “fundamentally ceasing to function.” However, even with a tax hike on the poor and middle class, the plan to preserve gifts to the rich still requires eliminating large portions of the state that serve the poor and middle class.
Instead of eliminating, or at least reducing, the generous tax rates for the rich, the Republican legislature decided it will eliminate what little money the poor subsist on and raise the state’s sales tax by 25 percent through 2018. Even such a large tax hike on the poor still leaves the state $800 million short of ameliorating Jindal’s financial malfeasance for the fiscal year ending on June 30. The Republican legislature came up with another plan to reduce a fraction of that $800 shortfall and are happy to completely gut several more government programs like education, healthcare, safety nets, and children’s programs.
The Republican legislature readily admitted that raising the sales tax is “regressive” and deliberately targets the poor. But in “the spirit of cooperation and compromise” they decided that if any group “deserves to be targeted” it has to be the poor. It is a deliberate Republican attack on the poor because hiking taxes on those less able to absorb the blow sends them deeper into poverty and despair. Republicans know this because the Louisiana Budget Project reported that such a “regressive tax mechanism like a sales tax hike is meant to take a much bigger bite out of a poor family’s income.”
Even with the poor bearing the brunt of the burden, the sales tax hike will still be about $2 billion short of the over $3 billion budget shortfall over the next 16 months. Allegedly the sales tax hike is temporary and scheduled to end in June 2018, but with more red ink still on Louisiana’s horizon, lawmakers will certainly have to prolong poor Louisiana residents’ pain for a long time. Republicans even came up with a plan to cover the next year’s shortfall, but Democrats “thwarted a serious campaign to raise the sales tax by twice as much” at the last minute. Even with the tax hikes and “combination” of bills eliminating and drastically slashing services, the Associated Press reports that the effect on the state’s financial situation is listed as “uncertain;” the revenue shortfalls are just too devastating to overcome with cuts and tax hikes on the poor to overcome.
This action in Louisiana is typical of Republicans; make the state’s poorest people shoulder a load caused by a Republican administration’s twisted, sick addiction to trickle-down economics and always insufficient tax breaks for the rich and corporations. Like Republicans fought ferociously to preserve Bush-era tax cuts while the poor and middle class suffered cuts to services, Jindal’s tax cuts will remain in place while the state struggles to stay afloat.
The same situation has been playing out in Kansas and other Republican-led states and it is precisely what happened at the national level when Bush-Republicans blew up the deficit with their tax cuts for the wealthy. Remember, as soon as Barack Obama became President Republicans immediately began cutting services and safety nets that aid the poor and middle class to “rein in the Bush-created” national debt.
Even with the 25 percent sales tax hike, Republicans confess that a majority of key state services are “going to disappear into that remaining budget hole.” Just the current fiscal year budget shortfall will force “doomsday” cuts to agencies like the Department of Children and Family Services, college scholarships, hospitals, public schools, healthcare, social safety nets, and higher education; all agencies and services that were already at less than half strength after the most recent massive cuts toward the end of Jindal’s term.
Four years ago Bobby Jindal got it completely wrong; it is not Republicans who have to stop being stupid, it is their racist religious and anti-government base. Jindal “termed out” as governor, but based on voters re-electing a Republican-majority legislature, it is believable that the stupid electorate would give Jindal another four years to inflict more typical Republican destruction on the state and its stupid people.
It is why liberals and Democrats who are so confident they will regain the Senate or the White House in November based on another incompetent crop of Republican candidates is troubling indeed. It is a frightening sign that Democrats still underestimate the danger of stupid people who cling to their guns, bibles, and Klan robes without a semblance of intelligence or self-preservation. It is also a sign that perhaps Democrats are not nearly as politically intelligent as they are inclined to believe. After all, the cocky “smart side” has been celebrating the demise of stupid religious Republicans for the past eight years while the religious racist GOP gains ground in the states and Congress.