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 In case you wondered what Missouri Republican legislators are currently cooking up, they are starting impeachment hearings against the Governor. They think that if they set off some big rhetorical fireworks, reality-challenged Missourians (a.k.a., the Republian base) might be susceptible to becoming so riled up about the Governor’s efforts to take care of business that they’ll show their appreciation come election time.

If you want more background read the earlier post by Blue Girl, (“When ideology overtakes governing”). After doing so, you’ll be in a good position to appreciate Rep. Mike Moon’s (R-157) effort at wit when he attempted to defend the risible GOP project:

Moon says the Governor has called the impeachment resolutions “stunts.”   But he says,  “I  guarantee you I’m no Evel Knievel,” referring to the famous motorcycle stunt rider.

Rep. Moon is right that there are some differences beetween the famous stuntman and the state’s GOP lawmakers – although the difference might have to do with something other than performing stunts. Evel Kneivel, who attempted to jump motorcycles over strings of trucks, canyons and other lethal spaces, had to know something about what he was doing in order to avoid going terminally splat. Can we say the same thing about the Republican contingent in Jefferson City? Is it possible that these folks don’t have a clue? For example, the latest evidence that we are represented by buffoons pulling one mindless stunt after another is the current manifestation of the GOP’s ongoing preoccupation with cutting the taxes of the wealthy, SB509:

Nixon says lawmakers might have intended to lower the income tax at the top level.  But what they did to is eliminate state income taxes on incomes of more than $8,000.   He maintains the wording is clear. “Senate Bill 509 says that once this legislation is fully phased in, the top bracket ‘shall be eliminated,'” he says. “The result of this provision is to wipe out 97% of all individual income tax collections in the state of Missouri.”

Nixon’s got expert opinion on his side and the GOP have got an retired Missouri* Supreme Court judge who disagrees. So how do the intellectual giants in the lege come down on the topic? According to Senate floor leader Ron Richard, “we got one learned man who says it’s not an issue; one learned man who says it is. So what do you do?  You take your best shot and try to deal with what you think is your best interest.”  

Does that mean that Richard thinks it is in the state’s best interest to get tangled up in litigation that could do away with most income tax? Or is he just saying that Republicans propose to do nothing about what is either a dangerous error or a potentially dangerous ambiguity? Am I the only person who sees the problem with this response? You think that Richard and his GOP colleagues have got some hidden agenda that would keep them from fixing an ambiguous passage? Or does he think a slap-happy approach to state tax revenue is really the way to go?

Bolstering the latter explanation is the fact that this is not the first time that the geniuses in Jefferson City have proven unable to draft coherent legislation. They made a potentially disastrous drafting error when they tried to push a tax cut bill through last session. And it wasn’t the only such error. Just think – these bozos can’t even get the basics right even when they’ve got outside lobbyists, like the American Legislative Educational Council (ALEC), who want to write legislation for them!

Supporting the hidden agenda thesis, however, is the Governor’s contention that maybe these folks are sneaking in through the back door in order to to do billionaire Rex Sinquefield’s dirty tax cutting work:

Nixon said there were only two possible explanations for how this happened,” the newspaper reported. “It was either an accident or it was put in deliberately ‘at the behest of ideological interests led by one St. Louis billionaire.’ ”

The governor was apparently referring to wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield, who has long advocated eliminating Missouri’s income tax as a way to attract more business to the state.

Nixon hasn’t offered any hard proof for this assertion, but, on the other hand, Missouri’s wild-West attitude toward influence buying in government, coupled with Sinquefield’s rather lavish generosity towards compliant pols, does lend his accusation a certain piquancy, particularly when the GOPers try to pooh-pooh the potential problem when it’s pointed out to them. This point of view suggests that perhaps the strongest resemblance between Missouri GOP pols and Evel Knievel might be that they’re all folks who are (or, in the case of Knievel, were) paid for performing dangerous stunts.

And cutting already low taxes in a low service state is unequivocally a dangerous stunt. The same stunt has backfired in Kansas and it has failed dismally to benefit the citizens of Texas and Oklahoma, states that, while experiencing growth primarily due to their oil reserves, have drastically  curtailed essential services. Which point suggests another significant difference between Missouri GOP pols and Evel Knievel: while Knievel himself shouldered all the risks in return for the cash, the Missouri stuntsmen are content to pocket the bucks (whether quid pro quo or not) and to shove the danger off onto the shoulders of Missouri citizens.

* The word “Missouri” added for clarity.