NOTE: We'll be discussing this story on my AM760 morning show here in Colorado from 7-10am local time on Monday. Tune in on your radio dial or on the web at www.am760.net. - D
After their anti-tax zealotry left their city in the budgetary lurch, Colorado Springs Republicans have slashed their community's social services to the bone. We're talking big cuts to police, firefighters, park maintenance, public transportation - even turning off the city's streetlights (except, of course, in the wealthy areas!).
If this wasn't bad enough, the city council this week doubled down on its conservative extremism, officially opposing a congressional jobs bill that would provide roughly $43 million to the city in much-needed aid. Their rationale? They don't want to add to the federal deficit -- a seemingly principled position, until you realize the same city council has had nothing to say about a far bigger deficit culprit: the profligate defense spending that underwrites about a third of Colorado Springs.
You see, for both Springs' Republicans and the Republican Party nationally, federal deficit spending on huge defense contractors as AOK. But deficit spending on jobs for the unemployed or basic safety-net services for the very poor in a city that has experienced a big jump in homelessness? Well, Republicans are against that because, according to the Springs' Republican mayor, Lionel Rivera, poor people want to be poor.
That last part sounds like I'm extrapolating the mayor's comments, but unfortunately it's exactly what he said. Check this out from the Denver Post's Susan Greene today, quoting The Springs' mayor:
Thumbing his nose at federal assistance seems to abdicate his responsibilities to the Judd Hesses of his community and others who are down and out, living in tent colonies, arguably not because they want to.
"Some people want a homeless life," counters (Mayor) Rivera, a financial adviser. "Some people, they really do."
So there you have it: According to the conservative leader of one of the most conservative cities in America, those thrown out of their homes in this Great Recession actually want to be homeless, so we shouldn't spend money or -- gasp! -- dare to raise taxes on the super-rich to generate revenue for programs to help the homeless get back on their feet.
I'd say that's about as frank an admission about the Republican Party's callous attitude these days as any. Give the Springs' conservative leadership credit -- at least their honest in their heartlessness and their extremism.
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