In yet the latest example of Republican governance giving a big middle finger to America’s collective intelligence, Wisconsin governor and terrible person Scott Walker is planning on skipping $108 million in debt payments to cover a $283 million budget shortfall caused by his own tax cuts.
Thanks to Walker’s incredible failure, the state will hand out about $19 million more in debt payments over the next two years, but that’s just the icing on the governor’s big ol’ poop cake. As Think Progress’ Bryce Covert notes, Wisconsin’s actual financial situation is very dire:
Walker has pushed for and enacted more than $2 billion in tax cuts since he took office in 2011. Although the state had a surplus of $759 million last year, it now faces a projected shortfall that could wind up being more than $2 billion for the next two budget years.
His latest budget, which he unveiled earlier this month, seeks even more property tax cuts. At the same time, it cuts $300 million from the state’s public universities as well as cuts to public media and the Department of National Resources. It also seeks new borrowing: $1.3 billion to cover transportation projects instead of increasing the gas tax and more than $200 million to finance a new basketball stadium.
These disastrous outcomes have been replicated by GOP governors everywhere. Kansas Gov. Sam Browback now seeks to cut $127 million from schools and delay $446 million in pension payments (at a long-term cost of $3.7 billion) to cover $685 million+ in tax cuts. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s state faces a $1.6 billion shortfall for the same boneheaded reason.
Conservatives have long since lost their economic marbles. Take Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) federal budget proposal, widely considered to be the GOP’s most “credible” plan among plutocratic dummies. It cut hundreds of billions of dollars from food stamps, Medicaid, pensions and virtually all health reform benefits while increasing military spending. The Center for Budgetary and Policy Priorities noted that about $1.3 trillion in Ryan’s cuts were “unspecified,” meaning they were either imaginary or deliberately obfuscated.
Center for Tax Justice director Robert McIntyre told TheWashington Post that because Ryan planned for $4.3 trillion in tax cuts and $4.2 trillion in spending cuts, it technically would increase the deficit, and Ryan was probably lying about his intent to close tax loopholes and deductions for the rich and corporations, meaning the real hole would be much bigger.
“The central flaw in conservative economic plans is that it’s impossible to reduce poverty and increase upward mobility without increasing spending,” Demos analyst Sean McElwee told me over email. “That means that in most conservative budgets, the money ends up coming from other programs that benefit low-income people.”
Fiscal conservatives haven’t just been busy ruining America, though. Paul Krugman
growth of real GDP to real government purchases over the period 2010-2013 in 33 countries, exposing the obvious fact that austerity just hasn’t worked out so well for almost anyone:
But this has had virtually no impact on Republican economic theory, which as Krugman notes “is now monopolized by people who have been wrong about everything, have learned nothing from the experience, and can’t even get their numbers straight.”
Instead conservatives have performed an astonishing array of mental gymnastics from simply ignoring all evidence that contradicts their worldview to injecting partisan politics into the way the Congressional Budget Office calculates its projections. They don’t even pretend to understand basic concepts like the labor force participation rate, and they’ve forced through sequestration cuts and government shutdowns that have demonstrably hurt growth. One 2012 survey of 40 economists of varying political bents by the University of Chicago found that the vast majority of economists disagree on the GOP on issues like increasing revenue, the gold standard, the Laffer curve and trickle-down theory.
Politicians that are bought and paid for by the rich have a special incentive to back policies that benefit their benefactors, so it’s not really a surprise that the nation’s ultra-wealthy have latched onto the GOP to push their own economic interests. Liberal analyst Jonathan Chait also blames the rise of taxophobia, which paints a self-satisfying picture of virtuous makers and parasitic takers.
The result is a primitive view of the economy as some supernatural arbiter that punishes the weak and indolent for their failings. You can see this contemptuous economic Darwinism in Republican circles everywhere, be it Mitt Romney’s 47% remarks or Fox News’ insistence that the poor aren’t really even poor because they have refrigerators. And you can see it at work when Republican governors don’t even break their stride when confronted with terrifying news of economic ruin.