- Fears, Doubts, and Uncertainties prevail in Jefferson City
Wednesday's Senate Hearing on Senate Bill 12---Obamacare for Dairy Farmers---gave me a day long opportunity to observe what is left of Truman's proud Democratic Party after it has been thoroughly worked over and thrown under the bus by the Shadow Presidency of Valeria Jarrett.
My expedition was for the purpose of evaluating whether, since the election, the Party had been able to OODA---observe, orient, decide, and act---in accord with the results of the post November election. My expectations were not high. My working hypothesis of what is wrong with the Missouri Democratic Party comes straight from Kevin Drum: that it is no longer the party of working class white voters.
But when the economy stagnates and life gets harder, people get meaner. That's just human nature. And the economy has been stagnating for the working class for well over a decade—and then practically collapsing ever since 2008.
So who does the WWC take out its anger on? Largely, the answer is the poor. In particular, the undeserving poor. Liberals may hate this distinction, but it doesn't matter if we hate it. Lots of ordinary people make this distinction as a matter of simple common sense, and the WWC makes it more than any. That's because they're closer to it. For them, the poor aren't merely a set of statistics or a cause to be championed. They're the folks next door who don't do a lick of work but somehow keep getting government checks paid for by their tax dollars. For a lot of members of the WWC, this is personal in a way it just isn't for the kind of people who read this blog.
And who is it that's responsible for this infuriating flow of government money to the shiftless? Democrats. We fight to save food stamps. We fight for WIC. We fight for Medicaid expansion. We fight for Obamacare. We fight to move poor families into nearby housing.
This is a big problem because these are all things that benefit the poor but barely touch the working class. Does it matter that the working class barely pays for most of these programs in the first place, since their federal income taxes tend to be pretty low? Nope. They're still paying taxes, and it seems like they never get anything for it. It's always someone else.
It's pointless to argue that this perception is wrong. Maybe it is, maybe it's not. But it's there. And although it's bound up with plenty of other grievances—many of them frankly racial, but also cultural, religious, and geographic—at its core you have a group of people who are struggling and need help, but instead feel like they simply get taxed and taxed for the benefit of someone else.
The post election actions of Governor Nixon show or tend to show that this is his working hypothesis. In the face of inadequate state revenue his State of the State speech proposed no new taxes even though the state is $4 billions under the Hancock Cap. He ordered the Missouri Department of Transportation to do a study on financing the rebuilding of I-70 with tolls. He instructed the his NFL stadium advisors not to propose new taxes (albeit continuation of current taxes was ok).
Further, when Governor Nixon talks about the ACA his principal selling point is that it saves money over the current program, at least until Missouri has to belly up and pay its 10%.
- Fear has replaced the ability to Observe and Orient.
Walking the halls, sitting in the offices, seeing Senate Democratic members leave hearings and the opportunity to ask tough questions about GOP crony capitalism openly displayed, taking in the body language of members and staff, it was apparent that Democrats have come to understand that "the Democratic Party simply doesn't do much for either the working or middle classes these days."
For example, last year House and Senate Democrat supported a sales tax increase to pay for highway construction, carrying the coals for its construction union supporters. Talk about a tax on working class voters for the benefit of others. Governor Jay Nixon was never on board and Senate and House Democrats should have taken a cue.
More recently, some are proposing an increase in gasoline taxes---the most direct tax possible on the WWC---to pay for highways and I-70. Common sense seems to be prevailing.
This realization, however, has not been translated into anything tangible because, fearing the charge of class warfare, Missouri Democrats are unwilling to talk about progressive taxation.
For example, no Democrat has spoken in favor of a land tax to pay for highways and yet that would be the fairest and most simple way. Better roads will increase land values so taxing that increase in value would make the most sense.
Further, Democrats refuse to offer a fair progressive income tax law. Because the income brackets are so low, Missouri's current income tax law is really not a progressive income tax in effect. For several decades Missouri Democrats have missed the opportunity to work for Missouri's working class by failing to propose more progressive taxation. In conjunction with the need for higher revenues for education and transportation, now would be the ideal time for such proposals.
But, because of fear of talking about tax increases, Democrats are unable to observe, orient, decide, and act on a plan for progressive income tax increases for Missouri.
- Anonymity, using the Internet, as a solution.
Tony Robins likes to say, our problems are "not a lack of resources, they are a lack of resourcefulness." When one walks into any Democratic member's office the head fakes being pulled off are amazing. There are computers, laptops, notebooks, and smart phones every where, being put to no apparent use.
Twitter, for example, has this wonderful powerful feature, the hashtag: #Moleg.
With #Moleg one can anonymously communicate with the World via Twitter account or a link to a blog, easily written, with the latest events and developments in he Capital or elsewhere.
It takes only a few moments to set up a blog, a Twitter account, and using the Google Chrome Browser,. and ScribeFire within 10 minutes any one can be informing the World about what is taking place in Missouri.
For example, it should be often and in depth explained that in the House this year there will be no Democratic amendments permitted and no meaningful floor debates.
We all know the bills that are coming. Right now, using Blogger and a Google Drive account, House Democrats could be offering to the World the amendments that would be offered to House Bills, if debate and amendment were freely and openly permitted.
- The Very Honorable History of Anonymity
Some make ask, is it right, ok, lawful to communicate anonymous. Absolutely!. Our Founding Fathers, Hamilton and Jefferson among them, did so regularly and with gusto.
- Do I expect anyone to Act? No
If Progressives view our President as weak, unskilled, and lacking in leadership---Why didn't we hear the SOTUS last summer?---be prepared to be really disappointed with our current crop of Democratic Legislators. Consider our sole announced state wide office candidate No-Bill No-Voice Sifton.
Here is the strong progressive set of bills he has put forth for 2015:
Two weeks into the Session he hasn't appeared on the floor in any meaningful way and is certain to do anything possible to avoid a substantive debate with GOP Attorney General Candidate Senator Kurt Schaefer.
Democrats are urged to express your frustration early and often, easily done on twitter at @ScottSifton.
Senator, a Missouri state wide candidate with only 923 followers is in serious trouble.