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Survey: GOP Governors’ Ratings Drop Over Pandemic Failure

Republican governors across the country are seeing dwindling approval numbers on their response to the coronavirus crisis, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.

Only 53 percent of respondents now say their Republican governor "cares about the safety and health of my community," compared with 61 percent who said so in early June.

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Debunking Chris Christie’s Minimum-Wage Mythology

If there is any upside to the constant blabber from a politician like Chris Christie, it is that he blurts out what others like him would never say in public – for instance, his recent remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage,” said the boorish New Jersey governor, a sentiment no doubt shared by the assembled big-business lobbyists and by most of Christie’s fellow Republican governors. “I really am. I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’ ”

Like him, several Republican governors have vetoed a proposed minimum-wage increase during their terms, and a few have even questioned whether there ought to be any minimum at all. Christie doesn’t go that far, although he campaigns and raises money for those who do, but he evidently believes that paying even a poverty-level wage to the poorest workers is damaging to the economy. And the would-be GOP presidential hopeful also believes, as he suggested to the Chamber of Commerce, that the minimum wage mainly affects teenaged and casual workers.

The notion that minimum-wage increases slow down economic growth and employment is an old Economics 101 myth, bolstered last winter by a Congressional Budget Office study that said increasing the federal minimum to just over $10 an hour might cost up to 500,00 jobs.

According to conservative economists, the minimum wage decreases demand for unskilled labor by raising the price. Simple enough, right? Or maybe that formulation was too simple — because putting extra dollars into the hands of those who spend it immediately, on food, clothing, and other essential goods, boosts the economy.

We have accumulating evidence, from a real, ongoing experiment, that raising the minimum wage is actually beneficial to the economy and not only doesn’t hurt employment, but helps create jobs. The experiment is taking place in 13 states that raised minimum wages above the federal level earlier this year, where results can be compared with all the other states that continued to let wages stagnate. So far, every comparison of employment rates for teenagers and adults with a high-school education or less between the two categories of states has upset the old assumptions about minimum-wage effects.

Six months after wages went up, federal data indicated that jobs were growing more rapidly in those 13 states than in the rest. The most carefully controlled recent study, conducted by two economists at the University of Delaware, with numbers released last August, showed that there was no dropoff in job growth in those states, which continued to have a slight, though statistically insignificant, advantage over states where the minimum wage wasn’t raised.

“There is no evidence of negative employment effects,” wrote the University of Delaware economists, Saul D. Hoffman and Wai-Kit Shum, “due to the increases in state minimum wages.”

Whether those comparisons will remain valid into the future remains to be seen, although there is an increasing set of studies, both national and international, suggesting that the conventional wisdom about the effects of minimum-wage increases is simply wrong.

What we know for certain – and what the CBO report last winter emphasized – is that increasing the minimum wage is good for poor families and low-paid workers. It improves family incomes, reduces dependency on welfare and other income support programs, and chips away at the worst effects of economic inequality. Raising the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, as the president has proposed, would increase net real income to poor and working families by up to $17 billion and move about a million people up from destitution.

But the minimum wage isn’t a panacea.

After Chris Christie vetoed an increase in the Garden State, Democratic legislators put it on the ballot and the voters approved raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour. Yet while 4 of the top 10 states in employment performance this year were among those that raised the wage — specifically Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Florida — Christie’s New Jersey was not among them.

So bad was his economic management that New Jersey marked the worst performance of any state, period — with a net decline in employment of more than half a percentage point by last summer.

No wonder he’s tired of hearing about higher wages. And no doubt working families are equally tired of hearing about him.

GOP Governors Have A Problem: The Ways They Govern

Even as Republicans boast of their chances to take over the United States Senate come November, their party’s governors across the country are facing dimmer prospects. From Georgia to Alaska, right-wing ideological rule imposed by GOP chief executives have left voters disappointed, disillusioned, and angry.

The problem isn’t that these governors failed to implement their promised panaceas of tax-cutting, union-busting, and budget-slashing, all in the name of economic recovery; some did all three. The problem is that those policies have failed to deliver the improving jobs and incomes that were supposed to flow from “conservative” governance. In fact, too often the result wasn’t at all truly conservative, at least in the traditional sense — as excessive and imbalanced tax cuts, skewed to benefit the wealthy, led to ruined budgets and damaged credit ratings.

Consider Gov. Scott Walker, famous for surviving the recall effort that Wisconsin’s outraged citizens mounted in response to his attacks on labor. While seeking to end collective bargaining in 2010, Walker also passed a series of regressive tax cuts that he vowed would bring at least 250,000 jobs. By sharply reducing state aid to schools and local governments, he temporarily closed a structural deficit – but this year, with state tax revenues declining precipitously in the wake of his tax cuts, Walker is facing a $1.8 billion budget deficit. And as for the jobs, most of them never materialized. Wisconsin is near the bottom of Midwestern states in creating new jobs.

In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback was equally faithful to right-wing orthodoxy. With the advice of Arthur Laffer, the genius responsible for Ronald Reagan’s exploding deficits in the 1980s, Brownback imposed an historically huge tax cut on the state. Declining revenues meant huge reductions in state services, especially education. And, as furious Kansans have discovered, the Brownback experiment has achieved poor employment growth combined with…yes, a massive budget deficit of nearly $350 million this year.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett’s first budget in 2011 included major tax cuts for corporations that cost about $600 million annually. By this point, it should be obvious who was required to pay for those favors: the children served by the state’s education system, who saw a billion dollars in cuts to their schools and programs, from kindergarten through college.

This year, the state is facing a budget shortfall of over $1 billion, but Corbett doesn’t seem to have learned much. He has demanded further income tax cuts that will benefit the wealthy – and will cost Pennsylvania another $770 million in annual revenue. And what about his promise that the state would become number one nationally in job creation? As of last summer, it ranked either 47th or 49th, depending on the data measured.

So far, so feeble – and it is scarcely more impressive in the other red states whose governors face reelection this year.

The politician tasked with rescuing his party’s beleaguered governors is none other than their colleague from New Jersey, Chris Christie, who serves as chair of the Republican Governors Association. From that perch, of course, the blustering Christie hopes to run for president – an aspiration that may recede still further from his grasp with each lost governor’s mansion this fall. Emotional as he tends to be, Christie surely empathizes with his fellow governors – because his very similar policies have landed New Jersey in equally precarious condition.

So it is puzzling to hear voters in places far from the Garden State – such as Iowa and New Hampshire – tell reporters that they admire Christie because he “saved New Jersey.” Evidently they don’t know that the state’s finances have been sufficiently terrible to provoke not one but two downgrades in its credit rating this year alone.

But bad bond ratings aren’t the only woe confronting the Big Boy, as President Bush called him. Christie is perfectly suited to his leadership role among the GOP governors – if only because his economic record may well be the very worst of any American governor in either party. The question that voters must answer, this November and two years from now, is when these failed fiscal and economic “experiments” – and the suffering they have caused – will at last end.