Thursday, April 14, 2011

GOP Successfully Bludgeons Americans, Coddles Rich Without Actually Cutting Spending

Capitol Hill Republicans kicked and screamed about cutting spending and reducing debt. They threatened to shut down the federal government unless they got to slash billions from vital services in the 2011 Budget. The Republicans browbeat Democrats into cutting $1.6 billion from the EPA so their plutocrat cronies could, unfettered by oversight, dump toxics and foul wind and water. Republicans deprived the poor of $390 million to help heat their homes. Republicans cut $415 million for cops and firefighters across the land, $600 million from community health centers, and $504 million slated to feed women and infants.

But because Republicans fattened the Budget with an extra $8 billion for the Pentagon, instead of the $38 billion in savings the GOP touted, actual savings would be about $350 million, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Add in the cost of a couple of wars and a no-fly zone, and spending is up $3.3 billion for good ol' FY 2011.

Thus, with all their screaming and posturing, the Republicans managed to harm millions of Americans and imperiled the environment without saving any money. The poseurs' big talk about reducing debt and cutting spending was all just a smokescreen to transfer more billions to their fat-cat cronies in the form of tax subsidies and defense expenditures.

To be fair, the Budget agreement actually cuts spending authority, not actual spending, so savings will not appear immediately. To be really fair, though, the CBO estimates those savings to be around $20 billion over ten years, or about $2 billion a year. This will certainly comfort starving women and children choking on toxic fumes in a freezing cold house while waiting for a cop who'll never come.

If politicians in general and Republicans in particular really had an interest in reducing government debt and balancing budgets, there would have to be a substantive examination of revenue reforms and government streamlining. While some Democrats have shown they are ready to tackle the tough chore, Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated they only care about finding more ways to plunder Americans and lay the money before their billionaire plutocrat contributors.

When Republicans talk about making tough choices, they mean tough for you and a choice of champagnes for the rich. When Republicans talk about shared sacrifice, they mean you sacrifice and the rich get more shares.

Some newly minted Congressional Reps of the Tea Party persuasion publicly grumbled at the CBO report, but all accounts indicate these deficit hawks had been seen in and around the greater D.C. area while the Budget deal was being put together. Surely they were aware that they were buying multi-million dollar tank accessories and stocking up on million-dollar missiles.The Tea Party stalwarts had expressed no issue with shovelling billions to defense contractors.

Here's a thought: the next time there's a conflict, instead of sending four twenty-somethings in a $4 million tank, which tends to upset the natives and make them nervous, try sending the same four twenty-somethings with $4 million worth of party supplies. Hire a band, fly in as much beer and pizza as anybody can handle, set up a big light show, and run out the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. How do you say "Popular" in Farsi?

Only 27 freshmen Tea Party stalwarts were among the 59 House Republicans who nixed the budget deal Thursday.  The House passed the Budget measure 260-167. 81 Democrats voted for the agreement, and 108 opposed it.

Shortly afterward, the Senate passed the legislation 81-19, and President Obama signed it into law.

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) voted against the measure in the House. Pelosi can recognize a pointless, gratuitous shakedown and bludgeoning when she sees one.

So, despite all the noise and all the threats, the Republicans really don't care about debt and deficits. They only care that those $4 million tanks are each being gussied up with millions in new accessories. They only care that the richest, most privileged plutocrats in history get to keep their tax breaks.

And, for the benefit of those playing a drinking game, President Barack Obama gets to say "bipartisan" once again.

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