New Kentucky Governor’s Destructive Flurry Offers Sense of What GOP Presidency Would Look Like

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Kentucky Governor
If you work for minimum wage or are an ex-felon wanting to vote, Matt Bevin put some lumps of coal in your stocking.Photo: Timothy D. Easley/© Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Wonder what a new Republican president might do in January 2017 to reverse Barack Obama’s policies? Newly elected Kentucky governor Matt Bevin gave Kentuckians a taste of that particular lash with five executive orders reversing prior edicts issued by his Democratic predecessor Steve Beshear.

Bevin’s actions will probably be treated by friendly media as a Christmas gift to culture warrior Kim Davis, since one order removes a legal requirement that the name of county clerks appear on marriage licenses. That means Davis can keep her job without performing a key component of it, to the greater glory of what she considers to be the homophobic stance of the Prince of Peace.

But for other constituents, the orders will be experienced as a big lump of Kentucky coal in their Christmas stockings. He killed Beshear orders restoring voting rights to about 100,000 ex-felons who have paid their debt to society, and raising the minimum wage for state employees and those working on state contracts. 

Bevin took office December 8. He might have waited until the end of the holidays to mess with voting rights and wages, but I suppose he thinks it’s never too early to institute conservative policies. 

It’s a reminder of the kind of havoc we can expect just over a year from now if a Republican is elected president. Without question, he or she will be expected to revoke a host of Obama executive orders — including some affecting wages, but also the high-profile policies he implemented on immigration enforcement and climate change. And even before those actions are taken, Republicans on the Hill, in right-wing think tanks and in the lobbying shops of K Street, will be hard at work on a legislative package taking the federal government back to Bush policies and well beyond, to be enacted quickly by the no-filibuster budget reconciliation process. 

So watch Kentucky and learn.