The Republican Party has always been about reducing the size of government. They hate big, intrusive, activist government. You will find the reduction of government, government spending and de-regulation at the very core of every Republican campaign platform. It is what they live for. Their icon Ronald Reagan said it best: “government cannot solve the problem…government is the problem.”
So it is interesting to see how Republican controlled legislatures actually govern once they take office. Rachel Maddow and her nightly MSNBC news hour have been all over this for the past couple of days. Her reporting is telling.
In those states where Republican governors have taken office there has been a major shift in the intrusion of their state governments on the lives of the citizenry. Not less government….but more government. Government overreach is running rampant in those states where Republicans have seized control. For example:
25 states have enacted voter registration laws that make it harder to vote. They require proof of citizenship in the form of birth certificate or passport in order to register to vote. These laws were passed under the guise of immigration reform but they are in fact designed to make it difficult for blacks and Hispanics, who typically vote Democrat, to register. Say goodbye to voter registration rallies.
15 states have passed legislation that the state government, not your doctor, will determine whether or not you can have an abortion. Doctors are provided a script which they must read to you in lieu of counseling. It is illegal for them to stray from the script. We thought the right to choose was already law in this country. Apparently not in these fifteen states
5 states have passed legislation that requires those applying for unemployment benefits to pass a drug test before benefits are paid. You have to pass a drug test before you can collect the unemployment benefits that you paid for.
4 states have enacted legislation stripping public employees of their right to collective bargaining.
2 states have passed legislation requiring you to produce proof of citizenship whenever you are stopped by law enforcement.
1 state has passed legislation that allows the state government to take away the citizens’ right to choose their elected officials. This is where Maddow is at her best. The Michigan state legislature has passed the Emergency State Takeover Bill. It allows the state to administer “Financial Marshall Law” by taking over any city, county, municipality or township within its borders. In essence, for any number of reasons that it deems applicable, the state can overrule your vote and remove your elected officials. Or they can leave them in place but render them powerless. The state appoints an Economic Financial Manager who takes over the day to day operations of your town. The EFM can maintain your little burg or recommend that it be rolled over into a neighboring community. EFM’s have been used before in other states. Typically they come in and work with the local officials to correct the management and financial concerns and then they leave. Not so in Michigan. The state has already taken over the little town of Benton, Michigan. Maddow goes into great detail of how Benton, a poor mostly black community with a per capita income of $10,000, stands in the way of a gated luxury home/ golf club development.
These are just a few examples of big, intrusive activist government; all undertaken by newly elected Republican legislatures who had promised to do just the opposite.
We see this all the time. Conservatives are great at screaming about the evils of big government. But after they leave their anti-government rallies they have no problem applying for unemployment benefits or cashing their social security checks. Did you know that when asked if they supported Paul Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare over 70% of those who identified themselves as conservatives or Tea Party members said “No”. An actual sign at a Tea Party rally read: KEEP YOUR GOVERNMENT HANDS OFF MY MEDICARE. This same hypocrisy can be found in their governing practices as well.
Republicans inside the Washington beltway are great about espousing the virtues of their small government policies. But what they SAY in Washington in entirely different from what they actually DO back home. Just ask the folks in Benton, Michigan.
Rachel Maddow’s reporting on this topic is excellent. Check out the clips on the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW at MSNBC.com.