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Let's go out to the lake, Earl

Let's go out to the lake, Earl October 12, 2011

Last night, Republicans used a procedural maneuver to block a vote in the United States Senate on that American Jobs Act. That bill would, among other things, provide $85 billion in aid to cash-strapped state and local governments.

It’s not entirely coincidental, then, that it was also last night that the City of Harrisburg, Pa., filed for bankruptcy.

This budget crunch isn’t unique to Pennsylvania’s state capital. In Highland Park, Mich., the majority of street lights have been removed as part of a deal to forgive the city’s $4 million in unpaid electric bills. And, as The Wall Street Journal reported last summer, several states and dozens of counties are converting asphalt roads back into gravel to save maintenance costs.

Last night, the Republican Party obstructed a vote on $85 billion in aid to state and local governments.

But while my state’s capital city is fiscally bankrupt, it could be worse. In Kansas’ capital city, the response to this state and municipal budget crunch is also morally bankrupt. To save police, court and jail costs, Topeka repealed the local law against domestic violence.

The Topeka City Council on Tuesday voted to repeal the city’s law against misdemeanor domestic battery, the latest in a budget battle that has freed about 30 abuse suspects from charges.

One of the offenders was even arrested and released twice since the brouhaha broke out Sept. 8.

It started when Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor announced that a 10 percent budget cut would force him to end his office’s prosecution of misdemeanor cases, almost half of which last year were domestic battery cases.

With that, Taylor stopped prosecuting the cases and left them to the city. But city officials balked at the cost.

Did I mention that last night Senate Republicans used a procedural ploy to prevent the Senate from voting on $85 billion in aid to state and local governments?

In explaining his opposition to aid for Pennsylvania and for cities like Harrisburg and Topeka, Sen. Pat Toomey said his goal was “to reduce burdensome regulations.”

Well, that worked in Topeka. Sen. Toomey and his Republican colleagues in the Senate have helped to end that city’s “burdensome regulation” against domestic violence. Thanks to Toomey and his party blocking billions in aid for local governments, wife-beaters in Topeka have been unleashed from the shackles of Big Government.

Heckuva job there, Senate Republicans.

The Dixie Chicks were way ahead of antigovernment Republicans when it comes to this idea. Years ago they laid out a free-market alternative to those burdensome, tax-and-spend, Big Government efforts to regulate domestic violence.

Just let the private sector handle it, they said, providing a glimpse of the future for Topeka and the rest of Pat Toomey’s ungoverned America:

Amanda Marcotte has more on Topeka’s “intensely dangerous” repeal. She also notes the “Goodbye Earl” angle to this story, highlighting the effectiveness of consistent enforcement of domestic violence laws:

The Violence Against Women Act — which emphasizes outreach to victims and swift consequences for abusers — has led to a 50 percent drop in non-fatal domestic assaults, and a 20 percent drop in domestic murders. … Interestingly, the drop in female-on-male murders was more dramatic, mostly because enforcing domestic violence laws gives victims the option to leave, and they don’t get so desperate that they shoot their abusers.


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