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The Miracle of Republican Governance

[ 132 ] March 8, 2016 |

120727_SCI_BobbyJindalEX.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large

Tyler Cowen recently asserted that state governments controlled by Republicans are generally better run. And it must be said that his evidence for this claim — consisting in its entirety of a 2012 listicle showing that small states with a lot of oil tend to have low unemployment and high per capita incomes when oil is selling for $100 a barrel — was compelling indeed. Still, even the most rigorously established truth may have limitations, so we should perhaps look at some case studies. Perhaps we can start with the great state of Louisiana, whose government put Republican orthodoxy into practice rather comprehensively:

Already, the state of Louisiana had gutted university spending and depleted its rainy day funds. It had cut 30,000 employees and furloughed others. It had slashed the number of child services staffers, including those devoted to foster family recruitment, and young abuse victims for the first time were spending nights at government offices.

And then, the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards (D), came on TV and said the worst was yet to come.

Edwards, in a primetime address on Feb. 11, said he’d learned of “devastating facts” about the extent of the state’s budget shortfall and said that Louisiana was plunging into a “historic fiscal crisis.” For all the cuts of the previous years, the nation’s second-poorest state still needed nearly $3 billion — almost $650 per person — just to maintain its regular services over the next 16 months. Edwards then gave the state’s lawmakers three weeks to figure out a solution, a period that expires March 9, no clear answer in reach.

Louisiana now stands at the brink of economic disaster. Without sharp and painful tax increases in the coming weeks, the government will cease to offer many of its vital services, including education opportunities and certain programs for the needy. A few universities will shut down and declare bankruptcy. Graduations will be canceled. Students will lose scholarships. Select hospitals will close. Patients will lose funding for treatment of disabilities. Some reports of child abuse will go uninvestigated.

“Doomsday,” said Marketa Garner Walters, the head of Louisiana’s Department of Children & Family Services. If the state can’t raise any new revenue, her agency’s budget, like several others, will be slashed 60 percent.

Wow, 3 months of a Democratic governor and the state is already a mess! If only Bobby Jindal was still around to provide that high quality Republican governance.

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  1. C.V. Danes says:

    See! Government doesn’t work.

  2. wengler says:

    This is exactly what Republicans want. State universities are centers of leftwing radicalism. Shut them down. Poverty programs keep people poor and lift up the lazy. Shut them down. Old people are useless and better off in the ground. Shut them down. Education should be paid for by the families of children and not by me. Shut them down.

    SHUT THEM ALL DOWN. IT’S WORKING!

    • Honoré De Ballsack says:

      This is exactly what Republicans want.

      Yeah. It’s good to see GOP misgovernance pointed out when it occurs, but let’s be frank–the voters in Kansas, Louisiana et al. keep electing politicians who campaign on deep-cuts austerity platforms. What exactly are we supposed to do about it?

      • howard says:

        the only two things i have ever thought of are to try and make it easier to vote and try to get more people to vote, which is a long way around.

        but at this stage, i’d have to say that louisiana has pretty much achieved right-wing nirvana, not the least of whose pleasures for the right-winger is that a democrat actually has to clean up the mess, so the inevitable shortcomings of the clean-up will be used, yet again, to debase the system further next time the right is back in the governor’s office.

      • tsam says:

        Well, Louisiana didn’t (this time). Kansas might just be hopeless. No idea what the majority of those voters are thinking.

        • David Hunt says:

          That if they elect Democrats, they’ll raise taxes and waste the money on whoever qualifies as Those People in Kansas.

          • tsam says:

            Yeah-there has to be a personal “I don’t want the low tax party to end” element to it, at least for people with brains enough to understand that state austerity is nothing but catastrophic to state budgets and services.

            • pseudonymous in nc says:

              Or people decide the best option is to fuck off over the state line to Missouri.

              • jmauro says:

                No true Kansan would ever do that.

                Best to head to Colorado, Nebraska or Illinois. Never Missouri.

              • David Hunt says:

                Yeah…I have a friend who grew up there. He called it the State of Misery.

                Edit: But it’s been a long time since he lived there. For all I know “At Least It’s Not Kansas” may be a common litany that the citizens of Missouri use to get themselves through the day.

              • John Revolta says:

                Yeah, no. The state lege over there has their head so far up their ass that they’re looking at Kansas and going, “Yeah! That’s how WE oughta be runnin’ things!” Just wait’ll they get rid of Nixon in November.

            • ThrottleJockey says:

              Kansas elects Dems from time to time. Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s first HHS Secretary, was one…But how they re-elected Brownback I have no idea. Some people are just gluttons for punishment.

        • random says:

          No idea what the majority of those voters are thinking.

          I forget the exact number, but a chunk of Brownback’s voters cited ‘immigration’ as the #1 issue facing the country on the exit polling.

        • efgoldman says:

          Kansas might just be hopeless.

          The Republiklown RWNJ TeaHadi legislature is apparently considering impeaching the state supreme court for, you know, enforcing the state and federal constitutions.

      • Phil Perspective says:

        Yeah. It’s good to see GOP misgovernance pointed out when it occurs, but let’s be frank–the voters in Kansas, Louisiana et al. keep electing politicians who campaign on deep-cuts austerity platforms. What exactly are we supposed to do about it?

        Have you ever seen who the Democrats put up in some of these elections?

        • Erik Loomis says:

          We are still waiting for your plan to elect true progressives in Alabama.

        • mds says:

          Have you ever seen who the Democrats put up in some of these elections?

          Yeah, Edwards is to the right of the national median as Democrats go, including on abortion. I’m disapppointed, but the Medicaid expansion alleviates—Wait, were you talking about the places where Democrats lost? Whoops.

          Anyway, in Kansas they ran a fairly conservative guy who nevertheless knew that you have to pay for stuff. And among other things, he lost because he wouldn’t bash the subhuman immigrant filth vigorously enough (“Crack down on the employers who hire undocumented immigrants” was pretty weak sauce.). Too bad Carl Brewer declined, or he could have made it a real race in an electorate dominated by racists, people who will never vote for a Democrat or a Democrat-in-independent’s clothing, and people who don’t want to pay taxes for any reason. (The sets are non-disjoint, of course.)

          (Honestly, if it weren’t someone like Davis, I suspect you probably wouldn’t have seen the crossover by sane Republicans that made it so much closer than in 2010. But Eugene Debs is dead, so we’ll never know.)

          • Rugosa says:

            “Crack down on the employers who hire undocumented immigrants” This is actually a pretty good idea as part of immigration law reform, but it will never fly because business interests want the cheap labor. The point of bashing immigrants is to bash immigrants, who are among Those People living high on the hog on our tax dollars.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      If people aren’t dying in the streets, you’re probably on the road to serfdom!

    • D.N. Nation says:

      Because this could eventually harm LSU FOOBAW, the Louisiana state budget crisis has become a discussion topic on various college football Internet hangouts of mine. And inevitably, some wingnut will pop in and say, if they’d just stop with the WOMYN’S STUDIES classes that cost the taxpayers BILLIONS, then state universities would have no trouble staying under budget!

    • efgoldman says:

      State universities are centers of leftwing radicalism. Shut them down.

      Yeah. Let the semi-pro football team play in AAA and pay the players!
      Wait! What’s that I hear? “Oh noooooooooos. Not THAT!”

    • Francis says:

      My understanding is that the Tax Policy Center is generally reliable. The link here shows that Louisiana is way out ahead of its peer states in the Southeast in per capita spending. Categories health&hospitals and all other appear grossly disproportionate.

      If TPC is generally considered to be a right-wing hack job, my apologies.

  3. postmodulator says:

    Gawker focuses on the impact that this is having on public defenders, and approvingly quotes an idiot wondering why Sanders and HRC aren’t promising to bail out Louisiana if elected. He may not have noticed that, firstly, it’s ten months before either of them can do anything, and second, nothing like that could ever get past Congress. In the present environment I doubt you would even get unanimous support from the LA delegation in the House.

    • Nobdy says:

      You have to admit that using the right to counsel to keep people in jail without a trial because no counsel is available is a pretty devious use of the constitution. That’s like supervillain level evil deviousness.

      • Honoré De Ballsack says:

        You have to admit that using the right to counsel to keep people in jail without a trial because no counsel is available is a pretty devious use of the constitution.

        People who can’t afford a lawyer are probably guilty anyway.

        • werewitch says:

          Forgive me for responding to excellent snark with mediocre sincerity, but I wanted to note: It’s often the people who *are* guilty that are the ones most in need of a competent lawyer, to ensure a fair plea bargain and appropriate due process.

      • Major Kong says:

        Isn’t there something about a “right to a speedy trial” or have I been watching too many reruns of Law & Order?

        • Nobdy says:

          There is!

          Unfortunately courts have…interesting…ideas about what ‘speedy’ means. You’re not likely going to be able to keep someone in jail for 20 years without trying them, but a few years is just fine and dandy.

          Since most criminals would only receive a few year sentence at most anyway you’re really only going to have to release your truly hardened criminals, murderers, rapists, whatever, early.

          For the meat and potatoes accused criminal, your shoplifter or drug user, you can give them all of the time they would get anyway (or more) with no pesky trial.

          It’s called justice

          P.S. “A few years is fine and dandy” is a bit of an exaggeration, but not enough of one. Not nearly enough of one.

          http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/id=1202638065307/The-Undoing-of-Speedy-Trial-in-New-York-the-Ready-Rule?slreturn=20160208160603

          • Manny Kant says:

            Wouldn’t most of your “meat and potatoes accused criminals” get out on bail?

            • Nobdy says:

              There is a bail crisis in this country.

              Those accused of minor crimes would almost certainly be assigned some kind of bail.

              Would they get out on it? For many people the answer is no, even if the number is four figures.

              Depends if you’ve got friends/family who can get the money together and are willing to spend it on getting you out of prison.

          • delazeur says:

            I believe that the defendant you link to actually waved his right to a speedy trial in order to give the public defender’s office more time to prepare his case. Granted, a choice between a speedy trial with unprepared counsel and a three year wait for trial is no choice at all, but it’s not quite the same as a court ignoring the speedy trial clause.

            • Nobdy says:

              You should not be able to ‘permanently’ waive your right to a speedy trial. That makes no sense as a constitutional rule. Once you waive the right to one trial you can just be held indefinitely?

              Furthermore I also linked to an article about how the right to a speedy trial has been completely gutted in New York state, which does not rely on a single example. Granted it’s New York, not Louisiana, but any protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution should apply in N.Y.

              As we can see from the New York case there are all kinds of exceptions that can devour the constitutional right.

        • David Hunt says:

          Everything Nobdy said above is true to the best of my knowledge. Also keep in mind that the state is not going to just release you if you’ve been kept without trial for too long. You have to file motions and go through some form of hearing to get release for a Speedy Trial reason. Good luck managing that without a lawyer whose absence they’re using to hold you without trial in the first place.

          It’s not up to Kafkaesque yet, but it’s withing waving distance.

    • an idiot wondering why Sanders and HRC aren’t promising to bail out Louisiana if elected.

      History suggests that federal disaster relief to Louisiana would be stolen and used to justify tax cuts.

    • efgoldman says:

      I doubt you would even get unanimous support from the LA delegation in the House.

      Hell, some of the Republiklown assholes vote against disaster relief for their own states.

    • ThrottleJockey says:

      Gawker focuses on the impact that this is having on public defenders, and approvingly quotes an idiot wondering why Sanders and HRC aren’t promising to bail out Louisiana if elected.

      Yeah, exactly why should we enable these tax cut junkies? They need to be in rehab!

  4. Barry Freed says:

    Cowen’s an economist, isn’t he?

    And it must be said that his evidence for this claim — consisting in its entirety of a 2012 listicle showing that small states with a lot of oil tend to have low unemployment and high per capita incomes when oil is selling for $100 a barrel — was compelling indeed

    .

    Which fact just makes me want to savor that smackdown all the more.

  5. malraux says:

    Watching Bevin in KY attempt to recreate the louisiana miracle is both terrifying and fascinating to watch.

    • klhoughton says:

      Fascinating for me, terrifying for Farley.

    • werewitch says:

      Not from the inside it’s not.

      Fuck term limits. Beshear could have run things competently for another decade, easily.

      • mds says:

        Beshear could have run things competently for another decade, easily.

        Yeah, I heard he was still popular when he left office. So for the love of God, whatever we do, let’s not replace him with more of the same. (This happened in Arkansas, too. People lurves outgoing Democratic governor; replace him with Republican who seeks to wreck virtually everything his predecessor did.)

        • Manny Kant says:

          Can someone explain what the fuck happened to Southern Democratic Parties? The explanation always seems to be “civil rights” or whatever, but the civil rights movement really mostly just made the Republicans competitive in the south. For decades thereafter the Democrats were perfectly competitive with a biracial coalition of white and black voters and, indeed, continued to mostly dominate at the state level through the end of the twentieth century.

          Then, starting in 2002, they just totally collapsed into nearly complete irrelevance. There was a bit of a revival in the 2006 and 2008 landslides, but basically state Democratic parties have become completely unviable throughout the south, with the exception of transplant heavy Virginia (which was, ironically, probably the first southern state to stop being reliably Democratic).

          What happened? Has anyone written about this? It’s kind of an amazing story, and it feels like it gets buried in a narrative of inevitability going back to the 60s. Maybe the civil rights movement didn’t make this inevitable? Maybe other things happened in the, you know, 40 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act that had an impact.

          • jim, some guy in iowa says:

            I think it might be as simple as the World Trade Center going down and the “war on terror”. I think that accelerated a general hardening of attitudes that we’re going to be working through for a long time to come

          • efgoldman says:

            What happened? Has anyone written about this? It’s kind of an amazing story, and it feels like it gets buried in a narrative of inevitability going back to the 60s. Maybe the civil rights movement didn’t make this inevitable?

            Back when the parties were heterogeneous, they were both spread all over the country and had a wide spectrum of liberalconservative (but not crazy, like today’s conservatives).
            The “solid South” was completely Democratic in name. The Southern Dems were almost 100% segregationist. Remember, before the CRA and VRA, blacks in the South essentially had no right to vote. There was no Southern Republican party to speak of.
            After the CRA and VRA passed, as LBJ forecast, the parties started evolving. Over the decades, the socially liberal Northern and Midwestern Republicans were gradually purged from the party. Meanwhile, the successors to the segregationist Democratic bulls, egged on by the Nixons and Reagans and their acolytes, moved to the GOBP. The Southern Democrats became the party of (mostly) minorities. And the parties became the ideologically homogeneous organizations we see today.
            Essentially, the George Wallaces and Lester Maddoxes of the 1960s became the Donald trumps and Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruzes of today.

            Has anyone written about this?

            Only about thousands of books and articles.

            ETA: Having re-read your questions, I think I’ve just been punked and you’re a troll.

            • Manny Kant says:

              This is the kind of analysis that I was complaining about – just saying “Civil Rights Act!” doesn’t feel like it explains much to me. In 1990, Democrats still dominated southern congressional delegations and state legislatures, and Democrats ran competitive races at the state level in both state and federal elections. Clinton won several southern states in both 1992 and 1996. The dramatic collapse of southern Democratic Parties between 1992 and 2004 seems very hard to me to blame on the Civil Rights Act. It is a topic that ought to be explored in its own right. I have a really hard time with the idea that political changes in the 1990s are explicable in terms of events from the 1960s. Why didn’t the politically competitive south of the 70s-90s prove a stable equilibrium?

              One possible issue: the creation of black majority congressional and state legislative districts after the 1990 census, which piled the most reliable Democrats in most southern states into a few districts, allowing for other, virtually all white, districts that it was harder for Democrats to win. It’s no coincidence that the GHW Bush Justice Department was heavily involved here.

              • Matt McIrvin says:

                There’s a lag in politics that comes from the fact that old people vote more, but their attitudes are largely based on things that happened when they were young adults. For instance, the 2004 presidential election was largely about the Vietnam War, despite the fact that there were two completely different wars actually going on at the time.

                Many habitual Southern Democrats probably had to just age out of existence.

                • Manny Kant says:

                  When else has this supposed generational lag time presented itself to this extent?

                  I’m not saying it’s not involved, I just think we do tend to take for granted that this was inevitable without really examining in any detail what happened.

              • djw says:

                Polarization+rise of social/cultural liberalism nationally finished what civil rights started? A bit glib, but it seems pretty plausible to me.

              • Ahuitzotl says:

                I have a really hard time with the idea that political changes in the 1990s are explicable in terms of events from the 1960s. Why didn’t the politically competitive south of the 70s-90s prove a stable equilibrium?

                Because it takes a looooong time for a generational turnover, and old people reflexively keep voting for what they were brought up to regard as their tribe.
                .
                It wasn’t a sudden change in 2001-2, if you look at the South in the 80s & 90s, there’s a fairly clear, if slow, turnover of white votes from D to R. It just didnt hit thresholds to kick out a lot of incumbents til then (basically when the 30-40 yr olds from 1960 retired & started dying off in numbers).
                .
                It’s hard to even exaggerate how hard and fast tribal voting is, for the elderly.

                ETA: or what Matt said

  6. humanoid.panda says:

    The amazing thing about reading the story is knowing that even in this day and age, a CEO that pulled this sort of shit on his stock-holders might be in some serious legal trouble, while Jindal is going to spend the rest of his life making serious dough working the conservative think tank/WSJ op-ed circuit. Sometimes, you do wish that government ran like a business, and fiduciary duties were a thing.

  7. CaptainBringdown says:

    Wow, 3 months of a Democratic governor and the state is already a mess!

    I don’t think it’s fair to pin this entirely on the Democratic governor. OLDMAN CAT’s recent arrival to the state is surely a major contributor.

    • so-in-so says:

      If this comment hasn’t been made un-ironically from the Right, it will be.

    • David Hunt says:

      Lies and calumnies! Oldman Cat was previously in Baton Rouge keeping the legislature from runaway tax and spend “governance.” Now that the Democrats are in charge, he has removed to NOLA so that he can watch God’s wrath over immorality up close and personal.

      • CaptainBringdown says:

        I regret the error. Excuse me while I commence sideways hopping.

        • David Hunt says:

          I was going to try to riff off SEK’s “make you uncomfortable with your words and what you say” posting, but I realized that I simply can’t top that. Your prize of The Internet will be arriving after a manage to get it into a U.S. Priority Mail envelope.

    • dp says:

      Seven weeks is more accurate, FWIW.

      But certainly SEK must bear his share of blame.

      Does anyone know if his recent move took him out of the Gret Stet?

  8. FMguru says:

    A 60% cut to child services? From a baseline that I’m sure that was completely inadequate to begin with? My God, that’s cruel. What the hell is wrong with these people.

  9. Rob in CT says:

    Thanks, Obama!

    Considering Jindal made the Thanks Obama argument for the rise of Trump, why not?

  10. DrDick says:

    state governments controlled by Republicans are generally better run

    They certainly are, run right into the ground. Pierce is rather on a tear about this, as well.

    • BigHank53 says:

      When I was very young, some friends of my parents who’d been traveling to some exotic locales happened to visit, and one of the stories they told was being warned not to stop if they saw an unconscious or dead person lying in the road in some misbegotten province, not even a child, as the local bandits were fond of using the sympathy of tourists to get them to stop so they could be robbed. It made an impression on me. (They had encountered no bandits.)

      I have no idea why our Republican ruling class thinks that bad things just can’t happen in this country. Slept through history class, I expect.

      • Bill Murray says:

        I have no idea why our Republican ruling class thinks that bad things just can’t happen in this country. Slept through history class, I expect.

        American Exceptionalism

    • GFW says:

      Michigan is the other really obvious example. Maddow did a good segment on all the disasters on top of the one in Flint.

  11. njorl says:

    Wow, 3 months of a Democratic governor and the state is already a mess! If only Bobby Jindal was still around to provide that high quality Republican governance.

    You say in jest what conservatives are absolutely guaranteed to say in (what passes for, in them) all earnestness.

  12. ProgressiveLiberal says:

    It is truly a shame for those who have no choice, but for the majority, this is what they asked for. They want their families to live in a shithole. And as their leader once said: Mission Accomplished.

    • DrDick says:

      Once again you prove that your nym is a lie.

      • ProgressiveLiberal says:

        It has occurred to me that not once have you made a logical and/or rational response to anything I’ve ever said. It’s all ad hominem. And when definitively proven wrong, you refuse to apologize. Truly amazing.

    • ProgressiveLiberal says:

      Am I missing something? Do they not have elections? Seems to me they do. Can we stop pretending that they don’t know what they’re voting for? They re-elect their failing governors. They reelect a president who kills millions and squanders trillions. They are well aware of what they are voting for. I have immense concern for the victims, but fuck the perps. They deserve less than nothing.

      I wish they voted differently, but democracy is a thing…

      • njorl says:

        Isn’t it an amazing coincidence that poor people living in poor states with lousy school systems and a history of oligarchic oppression in local government make such bad decisions. They obviously deserve their suffering.

    • Dr. Acula says:

      It is truly a shame for those who have no choice, but

      Yeah, that’s just great. That “but” is doing a lot of work there, and it basically says “tough shit”. You’re like those people who chortle about letting the South secede.

  13. Sly says:

    But hey, at least they got rid of volcano monitoring.

    • Just_Dropping_By says:

      My father (who grew up in the Pacific Northwest) had the best take on that: The congressional delegations of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii should have voted to strip all financing for NOAA’s hurricane tracking work the next time it came up.

  14. efgoldman says:

    Already, the state of Louisiana had gutted university spending and depleted its rainy day funds. It had cut 30,000 employees and furloughed others. It had slashed the number of child services staffers, including those devoted to foster family recruitment, and young abuse victims for the first time were spending nights at government offices.

    A few universities will shut down and declare bankruptcy. Graduations will be canceled. Students will lose scholarships. Select hospitals will close. Patients will lose funding for treatment of disabilities. Some reports of child abuse will go uninvestigated.

    All features, not bugs.

  15. Gerald says:

    Yet ANOTHER stellar example of GOP/Republican governance in 21st Century America!

    Reminds me of the gold standard set by Bush/Cheney/GOP/Republican governance 2000-20008.

    Had it not been for the ELECTION of POTUS Obama(D)… TWICE …this Nation would be in a full blown Great Depression 2.

    Thanks Obama!

  16. cpinva says:

    “The Miracle of Republican Governance”

    the true miracle is that there’s anything left to govern. Jindal and his wrecking crew managed to nearly completely destroy the state, a democrat will clean it up, then another republican will be elected and destroy it again. a vicious cycle.

  17. Lee Rudolph says:

    Three billion bucks? Seems to me that many billionaires could spare that, just for the good will and the naming opportunity. (What has King Louis done for us lately?)

  18. dice says:

    Wisconsin. All I’m saying. I wish people here could understand that this has EVERYTHING to do with us.

    Reading this was a drag, but seriously, thanx.

  19. […] the new Democratic governor of Louisiana is dealing with the fallout of the Norquist-inspired catastrophic policies of his Republican predecessor, Bobby Jindal. From The Washington […]

  20. […] academic chops, declines to cite any academic studies to corroborate this theory. Scott Lemieux points out the problem with Cowen’s approach, noting that his evidence “[consists] in its entirety of a 2012 listicle showing that small […]

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