I Give You All I’ve Got to Give, Rings and Pearls and All

Here’s a depressing read about the absolute fucking disaster that is Louisiana:

Initially, Jindal had been able to cut taxes because Louisiana was buoyed by billions in federal money, an influx to help with the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, in 2005. But as that money ran dry, Jindal said he would veto any bills that would push taxes back up to where they had been. Instead, to plug budget gaps, Jindal relied not just on cuts, but also on controversial, one-off fundraising methods. The state sold off assets, including parking lots and farmland. It cleaned out money from hundreds of trust funds — among them, one intended to build reefs for marine wildlife. It pieced together money from legal settlements.

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The math, now, is daunting: For the fiscal year ending June 30, Louisiana is facing a $940 million deficit, roughly one-eighth of what the state typically doles out from its general fund in a year. For 2016-17, which begins July 1, the gap is $2 billion.

“This was years of mismanagement by a governor who was more concerned about satisfying a national audience in a presidential race,” said Jay Dardenne (R), the lieutenant governor under Jindal who is now the state’s commissioner of administration. Dardenne said Jindal had helped the state put off its day of reckoning in a way that mirrored a “Ponzi scheme.”

Dardenne was elected separately from Jindal and said he wasn’t “part of his inner circle.”

Jindal suspended his presidential campaign in November, saying he couldn’t stand out in a “crazy, unpredictable election season.”

On Jindal’s watch, nearly every agency in Louisiana shed employees, and state lawmakers say some teetered because of the losses. The Department of Children & Family Services shrank to 3,400 employees, from 5,000 in 2008, and social workers began carrying caseloads above national standards. The state also cut funding for youth services and mental health treatment.

“When you cut those programs, it doesn’t change the need for people to get those services,” said Walt Leger (D), a state representative. “It just means you’re no longer providing them. Those folks end up in jail or wandering the street, not being treated for mental health issues, and all of those things have a huge societal cost.”

In recent days, lawmakers have zeroed in on a plan that would somewhat narrow the deficit for the rest of this fiscal year but barely make a dent in the $2 billion gap for next year. Lawmakers would raise sales and cigarette taxes while dipping further into a rainy day fund. They would also use settlement funds from BP, the company responsible for a 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Still, massive cuts would still be required for hospitals and universities.

The same thing, of course, has happened in the other state where the conservative ideal for fiscal governance has been implemented, and it’s a god damned train wreck, too:

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s aggressive tax cuts have come back to haunt him. In the latest move to make up for a massive state deficit caused by his economic policy, Brownback plans to cut nearly $45 million in funding for public schools and higher education in his state by March.

Brownback shared his plans for the current budget cycle on Thursday ahead of a Senate vote on a bill aimed at eradicating a $344 million deficit projected for the end of June. More than half of the money would be taken from funding for K-12 schools, and take place as soon as March 7, The Associated Press reported. The cut would also affect Kansas colleges and universities. Top Republicans said lawmakers need to agree on a solution to fix the budget by Feb. 13 to make sure the state pays its bills on time through the summer months.

Brownback spent his first term slashing taxes for the rich, promising it would lead to boom times for everyone else. Brownback’s “real live experiment” was supposed to lift Kansas out of the recession and into economic prosperity. The tax breaks instead led to debt downgrades, weak growth, and left the state finances in shambles. The Republican-led legislature in his state previously celebrated his massive tax cuts, but his action landed the state’s budget in shambles when it didn’t boost the economy like he’d hoped.

In his State of the State address last month to kick off his second term, Brownback announced that he would pursue tax increases, reversing his past policy. Republicans are also calling for higher taxes on cigarettes and liquor as part of the annual budget.

My own state has a budget hole that the legislature is going to blow open worse next year as they expand tax cuts for energy producers, and up north in Pennslyvania, Gov. Wolf is trying to clean up Corbett’s mess but Republicans are having a god damned siezure over raising the personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.4 percent. You read that right. from .0307 to .034. Meaning for every hundred dollars of taxable income, your income tax rises from $3.07 to $3.40. For the median income in PA, that is basically 150 bucks a year.

So while we are all freaking out about the Drumpf the Insult Comic Hairpiece talking about his dick- and don’t get me wrong, he’s a fucking head case and a fascist, it’s worth remembering that the sane Republicans are batshit fucking insane. The sane Republicans don’t even pass the Jon Rogers legendary 2004 “I miss Republicans” test.

How about someone in the media point that shit out? How many more times are we going to have to go test these failed policies that hurt people and the nation before we stop? As Charlie Pierce has quipped, “the thing about lab rats is that most of them die.”



Friday Evening Open Thread: Big Mouths, Small Bores

First woman gets within winning distance of the Oval Office, and the Repub men leap from sabre-rattling to literally bragging about their mighty weapons, in front of a live audience and an appalled world….

Won’t somebody think of the GOP children?!?…


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Apart from #facepalm, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



I’ve Been Saying This Since Day One

Krugthulu:

By the way, I predict that even if Mr. Trump is the nominee, pundits and others who claim to be thoughtful conservatives will stroke their chins and declare, after a great show of careful deliberation, that he’s the better choice given Hillary’s character flaws, or something. And self-proclaimed centrists will still find a way to claim that the sides are equally bad. But both acts will look especially strained.

Google Kubler-Ross, peeps. Anyone who thinks this election is going to see enormous Republican cross-over for Hillary or Bernie to protest Trump needs their fucking head examine.








Schvantz Truthers Unite!

Not so very long ago I remember this guy, funny hair, blocky, ungainly posture, brash fantasist — a Noo Yawk equivalent of those our Texan friends describe as All Hat; No Cattle — infesting the green rooms and bloviator sets of Fox News, talking about President Obama’s birthplace and demanding the infamous “Long Form Birth Certificate.”

Well, we’ve got a new controversy now, a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma:  can the Republican front runner boast masculine sufficiency — or is he a little leaguer, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.*

Given Donald Trump’s distinguished record as a campaigner for truth and unvarnished, unequivocal, impossible-to-falsify empirical evidence on the matter of our current president’s citizenship, there really is only one way forward.

Show us the long form!

Tizian_085

Or rather…please don’t.  Not ever.

Or to put this another way:  perhaps the most remarkable thing about the GOP race this year is the way the Republicans have figured out a new and truly innovative way to kill American jobs.  After last night’s debate, any market for political satirists is dead.  Imagine the writer’s room at The Daily Show right now:  why bother with new copy when you can just revoice that transcript?

This thread?  It despairs of our democracy.  And it is open.

Image: Titian, The Rape of Europa, 1560-1562**

*With absolutely no offense intended to those young ‘uns who actually, you know, swing small bats and run around bases.

**A local favorite — check it out at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum should you ever happen to have a moment in Our Faire Citie



Friday Morning Open Thread: March Madness

Ed Kilgore, at NYMag:

… As a starting point for the anti-Trump collective action cabal, tonight’s debate was probably about as good as it gets. For long, long minutes Rubio beat up on the Donald as a con man and Cruz savaged him as a crypto-Democrat, the two lines of attack regularly reinforced by the moderators and converging in the impression that the man’s a terrible gamble even for the people who are most attracted to him. From long experience during this campaign, it would be foolish to assume the debate damaged Trump’s standing significantly. But if it didn’t, perhaps the man is indeed bulletproof. He did seem uncharacteristically flustered at times.

It’s unlikely Rubio–who for the second debate in a row got into long insult-laden crosstalk exchanges with Trump–or Cruz helped themselves that much. But again, in the collective action scenario they’re like crime bosses who’ve agreed to rub out a common opponent while recognizing that they will have their own reckoning down the line. Meanwhile Kasich was either smart or lucky enough to get a bye into a later round, though if he loses Ohio he will be dumped from the convention cabal unceremoniously for failure to bring delegates to the table…

(Don’t know about Ohio, but as a former Michigander I would be very surprised if Kasich won in Michigan. Denizens of the two states loathe each other with a pure and impartial hatred — imagine the NY/NJ rivalry if neither state had a significant financial advantage over the other.)

Jamelle Bouie, at Slate “Rubio and Cruz Just Undermined Every Legitimate Attack They Have Made Against Trump”:

… Earlier, I criticized Mitt Romney for making his moral argument against Trump subordinate to his electoral one—that the real estate mogul would lead the Republican Party to crushing defeat and place Hillary Clinton in the White House. At the same time, Romney’s speech—a forceful attack on Trump as a threat to democracy—was an unprecedented step, the closest thing we’ve seen to a complete disavowal of Trump. And in small ways, it filtered down to the Republican presidential candidates. Rubio, for instance, hammered Trump on his business record while Cruz went after him for supporting Democrats. Romney, it seems, had given new life to the anti-Trump effort, days after the demagogic reality TV star dominated Super Tuesday.

With those final answers, however, the effort fell flat. No, they weren’t the worst part of the debate—that goes to the brief exchange on lead poisoning in Flint, where Rubio praised Gov. Rick Snyder for his handling of the crisis, despite growing evidence of neglect and incompetence, with deadly consequences for the city’s residents—but they deflated Romney’s anti-Trump argument, revealing the extent to which it’s a hollow exercise and undermining every legitimate attack they made during the night.

As long as Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and the rest of the Republican Party are willing to support Trump as the nominee, it doesn’t matter what they say or how they insult him—Trump retains his stature as a legitimate figure in the Republican Party.
Which, as he accumulates votes and delegates, makes him harder to stop…


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Apart from that unseemly image — brain bleach goes well with coffee, I hope — what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the week?