State Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-19) wants to be Missouri’s next Attorney General. He wants it a lot since he announced his plans to run in 2016 over a year ago. Consequently he’s been very busy getting his name out before the public. But not just any public. His constituency of choice seems to be the reddest dregs of this increasingly red state. It’s hard to think of just about any rightwing bandwagon he hasn’t tried to ride since declaring his candidacy, no matter how rickety:
Tax Cuts for Rich Folks: Evidence suggests that Schaefer supports the Kansas tax “experiment” and would be willing to beggar Missouri’s middle and working class in order to give big tax cuts to rich folks and their businesses. When state GOPers recently fêted Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Schaefer, who is currently the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, opined that the governor had “some really compelling numbers.” This is in spite of what Politico has dubbed the “Brownback effect,” observing that “Republicans once idolized Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as a tax cutting superstar – now he’s a lesson in what not to do.” Evidently Schaeffer didn’t get the message. Or else he actually takes seriously dishonest statistics of the sort that billionaire Rex Sinquefield published in Forbes Magazine in order to make the Kansas experiment look like it is succeeding, or at least not as disastrous as it is proving to be.
Social Spending Cuts: Schaeffer, like so many GOPers before him, seems to think it’s okay to fund tax cuts – favored by rich political donors like Rex Sinquefield – by cutting the ground out from under those who lack the wherewithal and the influence to fund his climb to the top of the Missouri political heap. He’s proposed cutting $130 million from the already meager amount allocated by the House to social services, health and mental health services. He says that the agencies are wasteful and that cuts are necessary to slow their growth.
It is true that Missouri’s social services are currently not functioning too well. Ill-considered cuts and the resulting “reforms” over the past few years have taken a steep toll, a situation that many take as evidence that they need more rather than less money. According to figures supplied by state budget officials, Schaefer’s claims of waste perhaps reflect his ideological biases rather than a close analysis of the real-life situation. As for out-of-control growth? Wouldn’t you expect that as Missouri continues its GOP-led transformation into a poverty stricken backwater, one might expect demand for services to increase – a demand, that folks like Schaefer are determined not to meet.
Guns “R”Us: Schaefer was one of the motivating forces behind Missouri’s Amendment 5, a constitutional amendment voted in by the gun-mad hordes who dominate mid-term elections in Missouri. This amendment, under the rubric of an “inalienable” right to own guns, was so badly written that it has made it impossible to bar convicted felons from gun ownership. As the St Louis Post-Dispatch described it, Schaefer’s decision “to start acting like a pandering fool” has had a scary, but entirely predictable – and predicted – result:
… .In a state in which there are more gun deaths than traffic deaths, in which toddlers are grabbing mommy and daddy’s guns and firing away, in which cities are being told by a Legislature there is nothing they can do about gun violence, now convicted felons can own guns and there is nothing the police can do about it.
Again, let me reiterate. This guy’s a lawyer – and he even wants to be the state’s main lawyer. If his legal acumen was insufficient to locate the problems in what was essentially his baby, a lot of other folks pointed them out before it was too late to fix them. Now Schaefer’s twisting and turning, trying to find a way to prove that “Amendment 5 doesn’t mean what it says.” Sadly, the courts don’t agree.
So stop and think. Either Schaefer is, as the Post-Dispatch implies, a spineless panderer, or he’s out-and-out stupid. He’s either taken in by or cynically peddling obviously failing, ideologically driven voodoo economic theories, GOP welfare queen vilification, and the Guns equal God ideology of hardcore gun crazies. Either way what rational, unbiased person could trust him to act in the best interests of the people of Missouri – either in the State Senate where he now works his backwards magic, or as Attorney General? Is the distinction even meaningful? If the sum of a politician’s major legislative efforts are stupid and harmful then it’s doesn’t make much difference if the motivation is incompetence or venality. For all practical purposes that individual is a fool.