The fallout from the 2013 legislative session ought to give Missourians pause. To date, Governor Nixon has vetoed 23 bills that made it out of the session – and he still has 10 days in which to increase that total. And given that the infamous gun bill that seeks to nullify all federal gun legislation is still outstanding, we can only cross our fingers and hope that our governor will go for at least one more veto.
Some of these bills are truly, horrendously dangerous and the governor had no other option but to veto them. I’m mainly thinking here of the corporate tax cut bill that aimed to take us down the same road as Kansas – which just had its economic development credit rating downgraded as a result of its tax “reform.” Others, while potentially harmful, are little more than exercises in fantasy. Here I’m referencing bills like those that sought to ban Sharia law or Agenda 21, you know, major threats that keep us up at night – at least those of us who’re both brain dead and paranoid.
Some bills, however, failed the smell test because they were, as the Governor noted, “shoddily drafted.” In other words, the whiz kids we sent to Jefferson City can’t manage to write legislation that doesn’t overshoot its goals or isn’t so carelessly crafted that it could withstand a legal challenge. I guess it’s just too hard to write laws when you don’t have some outside lobbyist or the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) handing you model legislation you can crib off of.
So far, I’ve just been describing what the Republican majority in the legislature actually did. What they didn’t do is equally remarkable. Transportation infrastructure funding, tax credit reform, the state’s outstanding education needs, you name it, they couldn’t deal with it effectively – and given their favored solutions, we should all probably hold our tongues and hope the stalemate continues.
Finally, in addition to what the legislators did that they shouldn’t do, and what they couldn’t do, there are the things they wouldn’t do. Foremost in that category is make sure that over 260,000 uninsured Missourians get health care. In order to keep these folks uninsured, our brilliant lawmakers had to turn down big wads of federal money – money that Missouri tax payers send to the federal government that would have been returned to the state. And that money would not only have helped the uninsured, but would have boosted the health care industry and created jobs.
To be fair, House Speaker Tim Jones has appointed some study groups to consider “Medicaid reform” prior to the next session. There are those who think that this action may be a ploy to escape the possibly very bad consequences of not taking the Feds’ Medicaid offer. What these groups will manage to produce, though, remains to be seen and if there’s a way to punish those who have to rely on Medicaid and to pare benefits to the minimum, I’ll bet Jones’ pals will manage to find it.
So all this leaves us with the question: Why do you suppose that our lawmakers are working to destroy the quality of life in our state? Why do they want Missouri to be a laughing stock? Do you think it might have something to do with the Republican majority in Jefferson City? Michel Cohen of the Guardian, speaking of the national level GOP, suggests that there could be some truth to that answer:
What is the single most consequential political development of the past five years? Some might say the election (and re-election) of Barack Obama; others might point to the passage of the most important piece of social policy (Obamacare) since the 1960s; some might even say the drawing down of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in reality, it is the rapid descent of the Republican party into madness.
Never before in American history have we seen a political party so completely dominated and controlled by its extremist wing; and never before have we seen a political party that brings together the attributes of nihilism, heartlessness, radicalism and naked partisanship quite like the modern GOP. In a two-party system like America’s, the result is unprecedented dysfunction.
Add comically ignorant and it sounds like Missouri’s GOP to me.