Robert Reich analyzed the present situation.
On the Liberal side:
Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party now controls
both legislative chambers and the governor’s office for the first time
in more than two decades. The legislative session that ended a few weeks
ago resulted in a hike in the top income tax rate to 9.85%, an
increased cigarette tax, and the elimination of several corporate tax
loopholes. The added revenues will be used to expand early-childhood
education, freeze tuitions at state universities, fund jobs and economic
development, and reduce the state budget deficit. Along the way,
Minnesota also legalized same-sex marriage and expanded the power of
trade unions to organize.
On the Conservative side:
The biggest controversy in Kansas is between Governor Sam Brownback, who
wants to shift taxes away from the wealthy and onto the middle class
and poor by repealing the state’s income tax and substituting an
increase in the sales tax, and Kansas legislators who want to cut the
sales tax as well, thereby reducing the state’s already paltry spending
for basic services. Kansas recently cut its budget for higher education
by almost 5 percent.
The Tea Party has basically shut Congress down. Their refusal to compromise is working
just as they hoped: No jobs agenda. No budget. No grand bargain on the
deficit. No background checks on guns. Nothing on climate change. No tax
reform. No hike in the minimum wage. Nothing so far on immigration
It’s as if an entire branch of the federal government — the branch
that’s supposed to deal directly with the nation’s problems, not just
execute the law or interpret the law but make the law — has gone out of
business, leaving behind only a so-called “sequester” that’s cutting
deeper and deeper into education, infrastructure, programs for the
nation’s poor, and national defense.
A great nation requires a great, or at least functional, national
government. The Tea Partiers and other government-haters who have caused
Washington to all but close because they refuse to compromise are
threatening all that we aspire to be together.