Today, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dsipatch, we learn that Tea Partier and state senator Chuck Purgason shares progressive concerns about the effort to reallocate the state’s jobs incentives during the upcoming special session of the state legislature. Purgason has offered some alternative legislation since he believes that, “Republicans are always portrayed as taking from the poor and giving to the rich, and we didn’t want to do that.”
Apart from how fiddling with incentives might effect the public’s perception of the GOP, Purgason is right about the substantive issue of harm to the poor – and to be fair, his proposed alternatives are, at first glance at least, interesting. As Matthew Iglesias points out, the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities condemns the proposed Missouri “compromise” incentives legislation, asserting that it will essentially tax the poor to help the rich under the guise of creating jobs:
Killing this tax credit would raise taxes on some of Missouri’s most vulnerable residents by up to $750 a year. It would also hurt local retailers and other businesses, since low-income people are among those most likely to spend every dollar they have. That’s not a smart deal for Missouri.
I don’t know if Purgason’s concern with the poor is sincere or not, but I do wonder if he doesn’t experience a little cognitive dissonance when he attempts to reconcile this concern with his other positions. Tea Party poster-boy Purgason went on the record right away in favor of radically cutting government spending. That particular song-and-dance has been getting a trial run during the past several months, and it doesn’t really seem like a winner as far as the economic well-being of the poor goes. Actually, it doesn’t seem to be having much of a beneficial effect for anyone. The chart below, prepared by DailyKos‘ Jed Lewison, shows monthly job figures during 2011, and suggests that while spending cuts hurt the poor directly, they don’t do too much to save or create jobs either:
Given the evidence, I wonder if, since Purgason is concerned about the poor, he will change his tune when it comes to levying draconian spending cuts during a period of high unemployment? Or is he just another one of those GOPers worried abut doing the right thing when the wrong thing is manifestly unpopular at home, but who really couldn’t be more delighted with the result of ideologically driven political strategies, the effect of which Dave Weigel sums up as follows:
Confidence has collapsed as Washington has gone into the austerity mode that Republicans demanded. The result: Voters think Obama’s screwing up.