If GOP members of Congress have finally (and mostly reluctantly) signed on to the reality of sequester cuts, the country's Republican governors seem a lot more bent out of shape at the idea of losing various crumbs from federal coffers. Here's the Christian Science Monitor on the case:
When asked specifically if he would accept new tax increases as part of a compromise to avoid the cuts – in other words, the White House's preferred solution – [GOP] Governor [Robert] McDonnell [of Virginia] didn't say no. "The solution is up to Congress," he said. "I'm just saying don't put all the burden on the states and the military. You guys figure out how to get it done."…
And remember give-em-hell Jan Brewer, the Republican governor who is arguably most famous for wagging her finger at Obama on a Grand Canyon State tarmac?
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) – who has publicly clashed with the president in the past – also wouldn't rule out tax increases as part of an eventual solution to avoid the sequester. Speaking on "Face the Nation," Governor Brewer noted that her state would be hit particularly hard by the cuts to border patrol agents. "We don't like increases in taxes," she said. "But … we know we have to be pragmatic. We know that there has to be some type of compromise."
Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) says
"Everyone is concerned about this, and well we should be," said Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, who blamed the upcoming cuts on "a total lack of leadership" by the White House. He warned that "lives will be put in jeopardy" from cuts to military and air-transit funding.
Yeah, no. Planes will not fall from the sky and al Qaeda will not infiltrate the U.S. because of sequester cuts.
Then there are Republican governors who are not getting squishy on the sequester (most of whom run states with relatively few military bases) but just suck on their own budgets. Consider, for instance, Ohio's John Kasich, who told Larry Kudlow recently that the sequester should kick in if the feds can't get their act together (he uttered something about hoping a compromise could be reached). But Kasich has signed off on Obamacare's Medicaid expansion (he told Kudlow unconvincingly that such a move would help him control spending better) and his own budget jacks spending up in the Buckeye State by a nice chunk of change:
GRF [General Revenue Fund] spending under Governor Strickland [Kasich's Democratic predecessor] was $50.7 Billion.
John Kasich's first budget increased GRF spending to $55.8 Billion.
Kasich's new budget increases spending even more: to $63.2 Billion.
That's an increase of $12.5 Billion dollars over the course of Kasich's term as governor.
Matt Mayer, of the conservative think tank Opportunity Ohio, told Plunderbund : "I guess we now know why Governor Kasich refuses to fund a tax cut by reducing spending. Congressman Kasich would have had a field day with this budget."
The Republican Party is in a tizzy these days, talking about the need for rebranding, fresh ideas, you name it. Don't you understand? Obama's Democrats are playing dirty, using social media and other cheap tricks to beat us!
In Washington, the GOP is led by ideological non-entities such as Speaker John Boehner (who voted for TARP, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, all the war spending you can imagine, etc.) and House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. These guys are quintessential big government conservatives who want to cut the other party's spending priorities while kicking out the jams for their own constituents. At the state level, the GOP has got a handful of true budget-cutting types who often muck up their "leave us alone" message with a bunch of extraneous social issues that scare the bejeezus out of independent voters.
On the state and federal levels, the GOP might do well to consider the notion that they should take their own rhetoric seriously and actually push for, you know, smaller government across the board. Not smaller government except for defense, or when it comes to policing gay sex, or targeting firms that might hire illegal immigrants, or opposing drug legalization. There's a goddamn large number of people out there (read: majority of voters) who have disaffiliated from either the Democrats or the Republicans who say they want a government that does less and costs less. Folks such as Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Justin Amash seem to be doing pretty well by laying down a logically consistent line.
Voters aren't going to swarm to the GOP to bask in the glow of Boehner and McConnell and Kasich and Brewer's flagrant B.S.ery when it comes to being small-government zealots. They just might respond to principled pols who actually mean it when they say government should be smaller, do fewer things, and cost us all less money.