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Impeding Jobs: The Bad Business of the GOP's Social Agenda

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Governor Jan Brewer's moment of sanity notwithstanding, the sad spectacle of Arizona's SB 1062 -- which would have given businesses and local governments a license to discriminate against gays -- is simply more proof that Republicans would rather focus on their extreme social agenda, at the expense of jobs.

In fact, it's further proof that the GOP's obsession with bashing gays and regulating uteruses is itself impeding job growth in the states Republicans control. The fact that a lame-duck Republican Governor, with nothing more to fear from the Tea Party, vetoed SB 1062 is the exception that proves the trend.

Consider that of all the Republicans in Arizona able to cast a vote on SB 1062 (i.e., legislators and the Governor), 94 percent of them voted for it -- despite massive outcry from moderate voters and the business community, who understood the devastating economic and social impact discrimination would have.

Consider another example reported by The Washington Post and others: Virginia Republican Senator Steve Martin, who recently referred to pregnant women as mere "Hosts" (though he did point out that, "Some refer to them as mothers"). Sen. Martin's words have been roundly condemned, but his policies are the law of the land in Virginia.

Most of the state's abortion clinics have been shut down, thanks to legislators like Martin. Women who do seek an abortion are forced to undergo an invasive, medically unnecessary ultrasound. The original version of that law, supported nearly unanimously by Republican legislators, actually required the ultrasound to be performed using a 10-inch vaginal probe. By the time another lame-duck Republican governor (notice a pattern?) realized the bill might damage his legacy, Virginia was already a national laughingstock.

Now consider Georgia, a state whose lightning-fast Latino growth could re-shape politics as it has in California. Rather than appealing to these new voters with a jobs-focused message, Georgia Republicans are pushing English-only and anti-DREAMer legislation this session, rightly noted by Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman as "knee jerk short term thinking."

In each of these cases (and many more), the normally Republican-leaning business community has spoken out against the GOP's extreme social agenda, and they should be praised for doing so. But that praise is incomplete unless accompanied by a legitimate question:

Why is the business community constantly having to speak out against extreme right-wing social legislation in the first place? If the Republican Party were truly focused on jobs and determined to leave their 1950s social agenda behind them, this wouldn't be happening.

Instead, jobs are never at the top of the agenda for Republicans right now.

With the gay-bashing "issue of the week" now in the past, Arizona's Republican-led House of Representatives is in hot pursuit of its latest piece of social legislation: yet more anti-abortion legislation. From gay-bashing to uterus-regulating, the Tea Party will make sure the GOP's social focus never wavers between now and November.

The business community understands that the GOP's social agenda hurts their growth -- and by extension, job growth -- wherever it rears its ugly head.

Voters can't help, but notice too.