Americans For Prosperity released their 2015 Missouri Scorecard today in order to let Missourians know which Republicans in the Missouri House toe the Koch Brothers line best, bester and bestest. Surprisingly, Republican lawmakers have to be sitting on the really, really hard rightwing bench to earn a high mark – to their lasting credit, Democrats in the lege almost all have an “F” grade.
The relatively low marks for some GOP pols probably reflect the fact that the AFP has figured out that, despite years of AFP-friendly GOP legislative control, things aren’t heading in the right direction in our state:
15 years into the 21st century, Missouri continues to lag behind the rest of the nation when it comes to economic growth, job creation and GDP. Every citizen deserves an opportunity to thrive and to chase their dreams right here in the Show Me State.
But that is not happening. Missouri ranks 42nd in economic outlook, 47th in GDP, and is experiencing a population decline as our neighbors, recent college graduates, friends and family move to states where there is greater opportunity.
The 2015 legislative session missed a real opportunity to end the failed status quo or put Missouri on a long-term path for growth
Sadly, it’s the GOP and those mostly AFP-friendly policies that are arguably responsible for the status quo that the document laments. But, according to the AFP, the sad condition of the state is owing to the fact that their allies aren’t “pure” enough when it comes to AFP orthodoxy, hence the “D” and “C” grades for numerous hard-core GOPers. The scorecard identifies 20 “key” votes, mostly but not exclusively dealing with tax policy and regulation, and in order to earn an “A” grade, the individual Representative must have voted AFP preferences at least 90% of the time.
It will be interesting to see just what effect the tough grading scale has on Missouri’s GOP legislators. The Koch-controlled organization spends big to support those who adhere to the party line. In 2014 ABC News rreported that “Americans for Prosperity [is] poised to be the most influential conservative group in the nation this year, and among the most influential and heaviest spending across the political spectrum this year.”
The AFP has already had an outsize influence in the state – its greenback speech may be at least partly responsible for the GOP legislative takeover itself. It was the AFP that shoved the ignorati out in force to fight against Obamacare. The oganization is probably largely to blame when we reflect on the state of healthcare for Missouri’s poorest, given the skill with which it whipped up its supporters and the AFP-inspired fervor that has kept our lege from expanding Medicaid with Obamacare dollars.
When we reflect on the ideologically fervid idiocy of a legislature that refuses federal Medicaid expansion dollars or, to cite another example, refuses to raise one of the lowest gas taxes in the nation in order to deal with a demonstrable transportation infrastructure crisis – all big baddies for the AFP – the dire state outcomes the scorecard enumerates may emanate from AFP influence rather than the other way around. It seems that the AFP won’t be happy until we follow the example of Kansas, which has gone the whole 100 AFP yards, becoming all Koch, all the time, and has, consequently, gone down the prosperity tubes.
How do we reward lawmakers who scored “C” or lower? There’s lots of Republicans who considered their constituents and got lower scores – a responsible attitude which should be encouraged. Not everybody in GOP-land has gone totally over the edge though most are teetering.Can they be shored up and kept on the side of common sense? I’d like to see a progressive legislative scorecard that makes the case for real growth and which rewards the hard legislative work involved in making life better for everyday Missourians instead of adding to the wealth of big political spenders. If we don’t take Missouri back, Kansas, here we come.
*Last paragraph slightly revised for clarity (10/17/15)