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Rainey: Should they be driving?

Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

I’m not anti-Republican. I’m not. I swear. I have friends who are… well, you know. But – from precinct to national level – more and more stories dealing with Republicans are filled with examples of ignorance of politics in general and the workings of all levels of government specifically. They’ve elected some goofballs to Congress who’ve proven THEY don’t know how it operates, either State groups continue to advocate party positions with no forethought of reality. All in all, what’s left of Grand Old Party leadership, in many states, is some old John Birch types with official titles they worked so many years to get.

The near-rabid GOP stalwarts in Idaho have provided the latest evidence of such ignorance, meeting in Twin Falls this month in state convention. As they do each session, they created a party “purity” platform with the usual impossible planks of going back to the gold standard, taking away the vote for U.S. Senators from fellow citizens, etc. But they topped themselves this year. They really did. Here’s just one example.

Idaho Republicans continually express contempt for all things federal. So, last week, convention delegates renewed their bid to blow up the federal Department of Education. Get rid of it. Officially. “Get out of Idaho; let us teach our own kids our own way and leave us the Hell alone.” Or words to that effect.

“So, what’s wrong with that?” you ask. “Several other state Republican parties feel the same way and, even though it probably can’t be done, what’s the big deal in Idaho being on that list?”
Well, here are some facts. Distasteful as it may be to make the point here, they’re federal facts from that damnable bunch of federal ‘liberals’ in the Bureau of the Census. (Public Education Finances: 2010) They may be feds but I still trust ‘em.

When you look at the 50 states – from the standpoint of how much money each spends per pupil for K-12 education – Idaho comes in 49th. The only one that spends less is – where else – Utah, where Republicans also want to deep-six the Dept. Of Education.
“Well, that’s not good,” you say, “But they still ought to be able to do it without the federal intrusion.” Oh, sure. No problem.
Let’s see now. Idaho – at 49th place – spends about $7,106 per pupil K-12. And 20.4% of that amount for each kid is – wait for it – federal bucks! Yep, even if Idaho Republicans are proud of their 49th place on that per-pupil spending list, without the feds they’d have to ante up another 20% just to maintain that national next-to-last ranking. Each year. Every year.

How many more bucks? Well, Idaho K-12 population is about 278,500. So total expenditures would be nearly $2-billion. If 20% of that goes away with the feds, Idahoans would have to make up $396 million just to remain 49th. Just to stay in the basement. Piece of cake! All it would take is a sizeable state tax increase. “A WHAT???” Yep.
In the northern part of the state, feds – read EPA – have spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of those damnable federal dollars trying to clean up Silver Valley which is terribly polluted by mine tailings and other debris. They’re still working. Helluva long term boost to the sad local economies.

But, hey, Idaho Republicans at convention still wanted to kill the EPA and rid themselves of all that federal largesse. While permanently keeping all that pollution, of course. Or maybe another state tax increase of hundreds of millions to take over the job. Sure.

Again, I’m not trying to castigate all Republicans. I was raised in a fine old Republican family by fine old Republican parents and grandparents. I’m not opposed to the idea of voting for an occasional Republican and telling my neighbors I did so.

But – in recent years – activities among those controlling the party have – more often than not – disregarded fact, shown ignorance of how government operates and seem to have not a clue how to advance their political position. When you select a Republican primary candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, for example, who says “the time for cooperation and compromise is over” – well, the evidence becomes prima facie. If he prevails in November – if others of similar mindset do as well – the already shameful status of Congress will be a very real disaster threatening our national survival.

Despite idiotic ranting condemning all things federal by the Republican rank-and-file, many have been taking those federal farm and land subsidies, enjoying the in-lieu tax dollars for all those federal forests around their little communities, openly using federal dollars to subsidize state education monies, begging for more federal timber to cut and federal highways and bridges to get to those federal trees. Or mine in the federal ground. Or use EPA cleanup millions to prop up the local economy.

And in Idaho, they conveniently overlook the fact the current governor of their own party will eventually retire with a good chunk of federal dollars in his monthly check from his lengthy federal service in our federal congress. Along with the other four guys from their own party currently back on the Potomac. All of whom will be re-elected until past retirement age. Like their predecessors. To live out their lives enjoying their federal dollars.
Just more inconvenient facts. Sorry.

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