Millions of Americans gave George W. Bush unquestioned support when he diverted personnel and resources from the war against al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden to invade Iraq.
Several million fewer opposed the invasion, stating that the primary mission was to destroy the enemy hiding in Afghanistan that destroyed a part of America and not to expand the war. At first, President Bush claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, capable of destroying Israel and, if placed aboard cargo vessels, could be launched at the east coast of the United States. When that explanation fizzled, Bush said the invasion was to remove a dictator. Soon, “Regime Change” was the buzz phrase of the month.
As the saying goes, “they get you coming and going.” GOP governors and legislators use their state’s fiscal crisis to justify painful cuts to education and essential services, as well as overt and covert tax increases like those above. The problem is that in many cases, conservative politics went a long way towards creating the very crises Republican say call for “tough decisions” that invariably wind up being toughest on those having the toughest time.
The bottom line is this: The people who created the crisis — the people who had blast at the party, spilled their wine on the carpet, put their cigarettes out on the sofa, left unspeakable messes to fester and surprise us later, and generally wrecked the place before staggering away to sleep it off somewhere — are not the ones conservatives (and some Democrats Who Should Know Better™) are asking to grab a mop, get out their checkbooks, and take care of this mess.
Earlier this week, I wrote of strange fiscal shenanigans in the reddest of the red states; like tax increases in Mississippi and increased government spending in Texas. “So,” I asked, “why are Texas and Mississippi having serious budget problems? And why are their governors breaking promises about taxes and spending?” There are two answers to that question; one simple answer, and one that delves deep into the mysteries of tax and spend conservatism.
So, why are Texas and Mississippi having serious budget problems? And why are their governors breaking promises about taxes and spending? Because the prevailing conservative economic policy in those states hasn’t worked.
A simple but powerful chant is now starting to reverberate, all across the country, in protests against budgets cuts gone wild.
“How to fix the deficit?” marchers are shouting. “Tax, tax, tax the rich!”
That sentiment, unfortunately, hasn’t yet reached deep into many law-making chambers. Last week, in the nation’s capital, Rep. Jan Schakowsky from Illinois did introduce legislation that would up taxes on income over $1 million, from the current 35 percent to a range of new rates that run from 45 to 49 percent.
As I wrote earlier, a funny thing happened on the way to budget solvency in some pretty red states: It didn’t work. Budget cuts and austerity have left Texas in the red, and the legislature taking a hammer to the state’s piggy bank, with an eye toward spending some of its “Rainy Day Fund.”
Mississippi is in a similar mess, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is trying to find a way out of it, and toe the line of conservative economic orthodoxy. Too bad Barbour is failing miserably at both.