In 2010 about 20% of eligible Missouri voters went to the polls. Not surprisingly, a majority of that 20% were the foaming at the mouth Tea Partiers and other like-minded souls who were all riled up by anti-Obamacare agit-prop of organizations like Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity (not to mention the simple fact of the first black president). One of the results of that election was that a crop of impenetrably hard-right pols were introduced into the Missouri legislature.
As a result, the real work of government has been left to patronage groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which supply anti-union, anti-education, anti-environmental “model” legislation that best serves their anti-worker, anti-tax, corporate purposes. Since such corporate groups are so willing to do the hard work for them, the junior Representatives have been free to ride their favorite hobby horses into the legislative arena. Most recently we’ve seen bills to combat the non-existent threat of Sharia law and bills that the promote hard-currency schemes of paranoid gold-bugs – oh, and don’t forget the bill that would allow bullies to torment gay classmates with impunity.
Now State Rep. Kurt Bahr (R-19) has married the desire to carry water for the corporatocracy with the 10th amendment fetishism of many of those on the right-wing fringe. Well in advance of the Supreme Court’s decision about the constitutionality of Obamacare, this former intern of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R-2) (says it all, doesn’t it?) has introduced HB1534 which asserts that if anybody in Missouri tries to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), they will be subject to criminal charges. Bob Priddy at the MissouriNet Blog sums up Bahr’s position:
So let’s see if we understand Rep. Bahr. He has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution of the United States says there are three separate and co-equal branches of government, legislative, executive, and judicial. Rep. Bahr argues that a legislature in one of the 50 states can make a judicial ruling as it affects only the people of that state. (The PP&ACA is so unconstitutional that anyone implementing any part of it is a criminal.) It appears he should start getting ready to issue warrants because some parts of the Affordable Healthcare Act already are being implemented in Missouri.
Wouldn’t you know that, first-time around, the rampaging GOP nullifiers in the House passed this piece of idiocy 109-41. Details of the debate, including some very amusing audio, can be heard here. It’s worth reading (and listening to); Rep. Chris Kelly aptly sums up the Democrats’ frustration with Bahr’s thick-headed embrace of nullification, declaring that “this is breathtaking in its contempt for the Constitution of the United States.”
Bahr’s last (first? middling?) stand also works well with the goals of the mostly anonymous corporate types who finance organizations like ALEC. Ed Quillen of the Denver Post has argued that the rabid anti-Obamacare frothing of politicians like Bahr is just another facet of the attack on workers that the corporate elite is waging through their GOP proxies. Writing about why the GOP is doing little to actually promote job creation, but lots to benefit “job-creators,” he states that Republicans aren’t just stepping on the brakes because they want our Democratic president to fail:
When it comes to jobs, there’s more to the story than the normal political desire to defeat someone of the other party. Republicans like employers, those noble “job-creators” vexed by bureaucracy and regulation. They don’t like workers.
If jobs are hard to come by, then employers have more power, just as it’s a lot easier to say “take this job and shove it” if you know they’re hiring down the street. That’s another reason Republicans want to keep unemployment high.
This also helps explain the Republican resistance to universal health care. If you must rely on your employer for health insurance, that helps keep you in your place, and your employer literally has power of life and death over you.
Bahr’s spite-fueled legislative tantrum directed at the ACA may be feel-good medicine for those who are inclined to constitutional posturing, but it is also intended to insure that it is the unfettered market – that is to say, employers, and ultimately, the corporatocracy – that will have the ultimate power over our lives. Quillen correctly observes that the model that the right embraces is that of the Deep South where the Republican “oligarchs”:
… want “a compliant, poorly educated, low-wage workforce with as few labor, workplace safety, health care, and environmental regulations as possible.
Dare I mention that, when it comes to the legislative crop of 2010 we get a do-over this November?