Friday, February 15, 2013

Republicans Looking For More Icing On Their Austerity Cake: A Recession


Republicans are poppin' woodies all over Capitol Hill as they contemplate killing 750,000 jobs, wrecking the economy, and jeopardizing national security with their sequester scheme. They're determined to make Americans feel pain and now they're cheering that a really big painful chapter is coming at us full steam ahead.
Around 750,000 jobs are at risk by the end of the year if the cuts from the sequestration-- which is set to begin March 1st-- goes into effect, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

“We think that would reduce the level of employment by the end of the year by about 750,000 jobs,” Doug Elmendorf, director of the CBO, told a House Budget Committee Hearing on Wednesday.

That’s a lot of jobs-- about as many as the American economy was losing a month when President Obama took office in 2009.

The president has said he’s willing to accept a mix of new revenues and spending cuts to avert the automatic budget cuts that were agreed to during the debt limit negotiations in 2011. Senate Democrats are introducing a bill that includes $85 billion in savings that replicates the president’s offer. It would close loopholes for hedge-fund managers, corporate jets and more while cutting farm subsidies. In exchange they are asking for the sequester to be delayed for a year.

But congressional Republicans refuse to consider any tax increases, even if they come from closing loopholes on the rich or large corporations.

“It’s pretty clear to me that the sequester’s going to go into effect,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. “I have seen no evidence that the House plans to act on this matter before the end of the month.”
And Miss McConnell ("Read my lips: I’m not interested in an 11th-hour negotiation.”) isn't the only Republican sadist celebrating. Democrats thought that because so many cuts would hurt Republican Military-Industrial Complex donors, the GOP would back away from automatic cuts they've been craving. But the lure of killing Head Start for 70,000 children is just too tempting for them to give up, even if the military they normally lavish billions on is inconvenienced in the process. For McConnell, Boehner and their pals, the idea of triggering another recession would be icing on the cake. Take the Koch brothers personal Member of Congress, Mike Pompeo (R-KS). He can barely contain himself:
“The sequester is here, it’s time, we’ve got to get these spending reductions in place… It’s going to be a home run. We’re doing what the American people asked the United States House of Representatives to do in 2010 when I came here. We’re reducing the size and scope of the federal government. I think the American people will have tremendous respect. I think the markets will respond very positively when we, for the first time, say we have a spending reduction plan and we’re actually going to follow through on it. So I’m very optimistic that on March 2 we’ll all wake up and America will have tremendous respect for what its House of Representatives led and what its federal government was able to accomplish.”
They are delusional. They think the markets and the American people are behind them. These people are dangerously insane. Tom Coburn (R-OK): “I think sequester’s going to happen… I think people want it to happen.” John Shimkus, the guy who allowed Mark Foley to rape the underage pages (R-IL): “Sequestration is coming. It's coming. We've got to get spending cuts... No new revenue. It's all about spending.” Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), the sponsor of a bill to put the 10 Commandments in every public building but who, when asked on live TV, couldn't name more than 4 of them: “I think the sequester happens… If this is the only way we can cut spending, this is what we gotta do.”

Democrats are more concerned with what's likely to happen if the GOP manages to push the bus off the road. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) did this guest post that couldn't read more differently from the cavalier attitude of the Republicans:
This is chapter twelve of “The Sky is Falling,” authored by Democrats in the House and Senate who opposed the 2011 Budget Control Act and the threat of the sequester it brought about. They warned that the economy would falter if the sequester came to pass. The Republicans, who hold the majority in the House, warned that the economy would fall if America did not pass a dramatic austerity program. Their tea party members refused to raise the debt ceiling unless there were what they considered to be appropriate cuts to spending and what Democrats considered to be draconian cuts to spending. As America hung on the verge of default, and the tea party in the Republican Caucus refused to yield, the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Obama agreed to the Budget Control Act.

The deal was that there would be a “supercommittee” that would find the spending cuts, but if they could not compromise, the deep cuts would be spread equally between defense and domestic programs. Everyone just knew, just was positive, that the unthinkable would never happen, that Republicans would blink on defense and Democrats would blink on drastic cuts to everything else, and that there would be compromise. But there wasn’t, and now the sky might actually fall right on our nation’s economic recovery. Last quarter is the first time that the nation’s economy has shrunk in almost 40 months, and the reason is the impending sequester, with its deep and irrational cuts that require lay-offs, slow-downs and freezes. When you demand that the federal government spend at least 9% less across-the-board this year, and you don’t even have specific targets, you will have a lot of unintended and unwelcome consequences, ranging from defense to medical research to education to transportation programs, etc. Those politicians who kept insisting that the government does not create jobs now have to watch their friends, family, and constituents who work for the government or rely on federal contracts face lay-offs, and they will see companies lose business and profits. The consequences of deep cuts are upon us.

The Defense Department has been sounding the alarm more than other Departments. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been going before Congress-- the very ones who created this mess-- and talking about the damage the sequester will do. In a letter to Senator John McCain, the Ranking Member of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, Secretary Panetta wrote, “Such a large cut, applied in this indiscriminate manner, would render most of our ship and construction projects unexecutable-- you cannot buy three quarters of a ship or a building-- and seriously damage other modernization efforts. We would also be forced to separate many of our civilian personnel involuntarily, and, because the reduction would be imposed so quickly, we would almost certainly have to furlough civilians in order to meet the target.” Panetta goes on to say that this would “seriously damage readiness.” What he is talking about here is national security and jobs. Is anyone listening yet? Everyone knows there are savings to be had in the Department of Defense, but we should target those cuts so we do not jeopardize security or jobs.

While Secretary Panetta is warning the country about our national security, the sequester is threatening other programs and jobs. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says in a report that sequestration would be “deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions.”

We need to stop this impending sequestration. We need to find a compromise that allows us to gradually reduce spending, while we find revenue from closing loopholes, reforming the tax code, and going after waste, fraud, and inefficiency. There are other suggestions as well. We could add a public plan to the health insurance exchanges. We could require the government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs for Medicare Part D. We could raise the cap on Social Security.

But there is very little action on Capitol Hill to do just that. Even if we wanted to discuss it, we cannot, because the House is not actually in Washington, DC very often these days.

Sequester will hurt our economy in New Hampshire. It will hurt our national economy. It will lead to lay-offs, and it will create more misery for the middle class and the poor. Congress has spoken. Now they need to listen. It is time to stop the sequester and create a viable plan that reduces spending gradually and keeps the economy growing.

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At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Mark Alexander said...

I think it's time for pitchforks and torches, my friend.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger John said...

The prescribed cut to "defense" spending will NOT jeopardize national security.

Correct Senator McCracked, you cannot make a fraction of a ship or building but you can make a complete version of the number proposed. (In addition to faulty logic, McCraked has arithmetic problems, too.)

That we spend more than half our annual budget (which is more than the combined expenditure of virtually the rest of the world) on perpetual war-making reveals all that need be known about our paranoid and morally, politically and economically bankrupt society/economic system.

John Puma

At 10:25 PM, Blogger John said...

That is: "You can make a complete version of A FRACTION OF of the number proposed."



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