Rachel Maddow's April Fool's program included as a guest the newly retired Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele. Mr. Steele has had the thankless task for many years of explaining and defending the worth of Republican ideology to skeptics. In retirement, he has now outdone himself. Maddow challenged him to explain how anyone could justify the policy of many new Republican governors, Scott Walker of Wisconsin preeminently among them, of casually denying collective bargaining rights to unions, including public unions representing fire, police, and teachers, while at the same time subsidizing and supporting, financially, the corporate interests of big business. She even pointed out that the "rationale" for this policy was based on its premise that such behavior was necessary as a budgetary matter.
Steele's response was breathtaking:
"[T]hat gets to the philosophical difference between where you sit and where I sit, and how we look at the dollar that comes into a state government, where that dollar comes from, and how it's turned around, either through tax policy, fiscal policy, and et cetera. They believe, and I believe some rightly, that these investments that business are able to make will enable the public sector, which drives the economy at the end of the day. It's not the contracts for the union workers, whether they are fire or police, that are driving the economy. It is actually the wealth that's created by the small business owner who invests in the economy. And it's a philosophical difference in terms of how we view those dollars being put best to the best use. We think it belongs in the private sector, not the public sector."
Steele's well-earned reputation over the years is often to say out loud what his peers would be embarrassed to have heard. Republicans, like the crop of newly elected governors, see as their responsibility an obligation to "turn around" dollars collected from the "public sector" and redistribute them to business, who through some magical application will "enable the public sector, which drives the economy at the end of the day." As to the revenue collected in those states: "We think it belongs in the private sector, not the public sector."
Let us eat cake.