I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking, "I told you so". As last year's mid-terms approached and the crop of far Right candidates were looking more and more likely to win big, I saw it coming. Everyone should have, but Americans were, as usual, impatient and fickle. Two years of the Obama administration and Democrats in control (Senate excluded, of course) hadn't magically levitated us out of a deep recession yet, so obviously it was time to reverse the gears again. Well America did switch horses in the middle of the race and what a fine mess it's creating.
Republicans retook control of the House and promised that Jobs were the top priority. So what did they do with their first bills? A symbolic 'repeal' of Health Reform, which had no chance of passing the Senate or being signed by the President. Followed by . . . wait for it, two bills focused on abortion. And not just the usual conservative anti-abortion style legislation. No, they decided that the best way to restrict abortions was to try and redefine what 'rape' actually meant! They actually tried to do it by making a distinction between 'rape' and 'forcible rape'! Let me quote from the New Oxford American Dictionary: Rape (noun)"forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with [them] without their consent and against their will, esp. by the threat or use of violence against them." I'm pretty sure that would be 'forcible rape'. I'm sure if one of these Republicans had a friend or family member who was raped, they would consider that 'forcible'. Welcome to the Republican controlled House, where we redefine the English language to fit our social policies!
Remember those promises newly minted Speaker Boehner and his colleagues made to 'fix' the House when they took over? Such as citing Constitutional precedent in all bills? Promise broken from day one. Promise to cut $100 Billion from the budget in their first year? Reality finally sets in and that number is dropping fast. Promise Broken. A promise to institute an 'Open Rules' process on all legislation so there would be debate and a chance to propose amendments? Promise broken day one. It took them over a month before they finally got around to keeping this promise, but I wouldn't hold my breath on it being repeated after that.
What about State governments? A wave of Republican Governors were voted into office. Well, in Wisconsin we have Governor Scott Walker who has decided to address a budget shortfall by slashing public worker pay and benefits. But that's just the semi-normal part of the legislation. Another part of the proposed bill would strip many unions of their collective bargaining rights. A move that has zero budgetary effect, but certainly a large political effect. Rachel Maddow put it well on a recent show where she noted that Wisconsin is not in tough budgetary straits. Or they weren't until Governor Walker gave away about $140 Million in business tax incentives immediately after taking office. A number that is eerily close, oddly enough, to the current state shortfall. So while Governor Walker is attempting to make this a budgetary crises, what this really is about is politics. Union busting, not to save money, but as a direct attack on organizations who generally support Democratic candidates. Think this is just my misinterpretation? Then why did Gov. Walker exempt local police, firefighters and state troopers from his labor union attacks? Oddly enough, these are the three groups who supported his election campaign. I'm sure that's just a coincidence though, right?
So welcome, America, to your newly elected conservative government! I just hope you weren't actually counting on them to help with the jobs crisis or the economy. After all, why work to address the 9% unemployment rate and quickly widening wage gap when you have the chance to redefine rape and strip unions of their bargaining rights? Welcome America, not to the government you wanted, but rather to the government you deserve!
Update: If you would like a good followup to the Wisconsin story, I suggest this.