Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How Republicans are Sabotaging the Economy


We have a spending problem, because we have a revenue problem.  We have a revenue problem because we have massive unemployment....it's that simple.  

Millions of employed would pay taxes, raising revenue.  They would contribute to Social Security and Medicare.  The cost of unemployment and food stamps would go down, along with the cost of other support services.  Employed people are consumers who increase the business bottom line.  It's a win-win. Job creation is the solution... so cutting jobs, even government jobs, only prolongs and increases the problem.

So, as John Boehner asks, "Where are the jobs?"  Why have the Republicans blocked job creating legislation?  Because they have no intention of advancing any legislation that will create jobs because it would undermine their real ambition...to destroy Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security....all safety-net programs.    

If employment increases, the projections of these programs improve as well.  So it serves their purpose for the economy to remain in the tank.  To assure that it does,  they block everything that might improve progress.  The Senate Republicans even blocked a Democratic tax proposal designed to curb outsourcing.  The bill would have made it more difficult for companies to move jobs out of the country and easier to bring jobs to the U.S.  In fact, they have blocked every jobs bill presented to Congress:

Senate GOP blocks veterans jobs bill - CBS News 

Senate Republicans block Democrats' jobs bill - Reuters

GOP senators block top Obama jobs initiative - CNN

The number 16 trillion is a huge number, but compared to what?  Today's debt to GDP is 103%.  After World War II, the debt to GDP was 122%...a far bleaker economic picture.  What happened?  People went to work.  Remember "Rosie the Riveter"?

Sequestration and the Debt

Republicans have railed about what they cleverly call "entitlements" since their enactment.  So why didn't they reform or eliminate them when they controlled the House, Senate and White House?  They were in the majority in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.  George W. Bush was president. A projected Medicare and Social Security shortfall existed then.  But what did they do?  They expanded Medicare with a prescription drug  plan.

Today, we are in the throes of sequestration.  No one would deny that the government can cut $85 billion in expenses.  It  isn't the amount of the cuts that is troublesome, it's the way in which they are being administered.  Clearly, $85 billion could easily be cut from here.  There is hardly a need to cut Head Start or cause further job loss, unless it's what they hope to do.

The idea that President Obama is a spendthrift is yet another lie Republicans promote.  Anyone can ferret out the truth for themselves.  When Present Obama took office, the deficit was $1,416 billion.  It is presently $1,090 billion.  Clearly, the deficit has gone down, so what could they possibly mean?  They are lying.  All the hype about the debt, deficit and the country going bankrupt is just that...hype.

I can't say it enough. You cannot go bankrupt when you print your own currency, decide how much will be in circulation, set your own interest rates and do your own accounting.  It's common sense.  Would you go bankrupt if you had the same financial authority?  It's fair to recall when Rumsfeld announced the Defense Department's inability to track $1.3 trillion.  That's TRILLION.  According to Rumsfeld, the money had clearly been spent.  That was 2001.  Where was it accounted for?  We had a surplus.

Revisiting the Stimulus

Everyone should be able to recall the original outrage about the price tag of the Stimulus. Headlines looked like this: 

What seems forgotten is that in response to the “Stimulus uproar”,  a group of Senators,  led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins  cut billions from the original stimulusRepublican votes were necessary for passage (there were not 60 Democratic Senators seated) job-stimulating measures were traded for tax cuts.  

Many complain that there were not enough infrastructure jobs in the Stimulus. Here is what was cut:   
•    $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings     
•    $75 million from Smithsonian; for repairs, refurbishing and upgrading     
•    $200 million from Environmental Protection Agency Superfund - for tank removal, drilling, soil    sampling, etc.     
•    $100 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - for habitat restoration, vessel maintenance, construction and repair of NOAA facilities, ships and equipment.     
•    $100 million from FBI construction     
•    $65 million for watershed rehabilitation     
•    $25 million for Marshall’s Construction     
•    $300 million for federal prisons; repairs and upgrades to construction and security     
•    $55 million for historic preservation     
•    $165 million for Forest Service capital improvement     
•    $16 billion for school construction     
•    $3.5 billion for higher education construction     
•    $2.25 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization - - for road, bridge and trail maintenance; including related watershed restoration and ecosystem enhancement projects; facilities improvement, maintenance and renovation.     
•    $1.2 billion for retrofitting Project 8 housing     
•    $100 million for Farm Service Agency modernization  

Still others complain that the President has not kept his commitment to "green technology" and movement  away from fossil fuels.  Here’s what was cut from the Stimulus in favor of tax cuts:     
•    $300 million from federal fleet of hybrid vehicles     
•    $1 billion for Energy Loan Guarantees - to encourage improved technologies in energy projects that avoid, reduce, or sequester air pollutants or  emissions of greenhouse gases; and employ new or improved technologies; issue loans to automobile and part manufacturers for cost of re-equipping, expanding, or establishing manufacturing facilities.  Republicans cut law enforcement in state after state in order to balance their state budgets.  Here’s what was traded from the Stimulus for tax cuts:     

Republicans cut law enforcement in state after state in order to balance their state budgets.  Here’s what was traded from the Stimulus for tax cuts:

•    $100 million from law enforcement wireless     
•    $440 million for BYRNE grant program - funding would have focused on preventing and reducing violent crime; expansion of the COPS program; reducing mortgage fraud and crime related to vacant properties and improving resources and services for victims of crime.     
•    $10 million state and local law enforcement     
•    $50 million from Department of Homeland Security     
•    $200 million Transportation Security Administration 
Republican governors cut hundreds of thousands of educators, adding to the unemployment rolls.  All jobs that might have been saved had these cuts not been made to the Stimulus:   

•    $50 million for Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service     
•    $100 million for distance learning - a process to provide access to learning when the source of information and the learners are separated by time and distance, or both."     
•    $98 million for school nutrition     
•    $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start     
•    $600 million for Title I (No Child Left Behind) 
In fact, one can only speculate how many states would have found it necessary to cut jobs, reduce employee benefits and shred the safety net for the poor if

$40 billion that was for state fiscal stabilization had not been traded for those elusive "job-creating" tax cuts.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson complained that the President was not helping Texas with their wildfires.  Perhaps it was because of the cuts to the Stimulus

$700 million to supplement disaster recovery which would have been used to protect communities from large, unnaturally severe fires and contribute to the restoration of fire-adapted ecosystems

$90 million for State and Private Wildlife Fire Management

Homelessness would not be nearly as pervasive if  

$1.25 billion for project based rental to preserve tens of thousands of affordable housing units and prevent homelessness had not been stripped from the Stimulus. 

The Stimulus sought to increase the Federal share of Medicaid funding; including assistance to hospitals, Tribal protections, health professions training and support.  The aim was to help stabilize State budgets and maintain health care services for struggling families.  But....

$5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity was cut from the Stimulus.
In fact, all kinds of healthcare benefits were eliminated in favor of tax cuts, including 

$2 billion for Health Information Technology Grants that would have enabled the coordination of care as well as the maintenance of the continuum of care across the nation, enabled by
$2 billion for broadband; 
$400 million for science and research. 

Space geeks complain that the President failed to establish an organizational authority in the federal government to oversee policy dealing with the government's space-related programs.  Many suggest the President has destroyed NASA.  

These are some of the programs  that were left on the cutting floor:

•    $50 million for NASA - to among other things re-establish the National Aeronautics and Space Council     
•    $50 million for aeronautics     
•    $50 million for exploration and support of a human mission to the moon by 2020          
Promises about Space on The Obameter

In the end the complaint would turn from the “expensive, overindulgent, wasteful Stimulus” to loud and constant declarations about the fact that “the Stimulus was just too small”.  Now I ask, do you think leaving all the Stimulus appropriations in place would have benefited the country more than the tax cuts that replaced them?

The Hard Truth

There will be no meaningful gun safety laws, immigration will flounder and nothing of substance will occur as long as the Republicans are the majority in the House.  Watch, as they allow everyone to believe they are being cooperative, negotiating in good faith.  The decision to finally acknowledge the President with dining and meetings is just a ruse.  At the last minute, a Republican will suddenly realize there is simply a point of contention with which he simply cannot abide.  It's the way they use up valuable time and stall legislation.

Republicans have no intention of doing anything that will even slightly bolster this President's record of accomplishment.  The declaration to see that he fails has not changed and if it means everyone suffers in order for them to meet that goal..too bad.  Old white men.  Abortion and gay marriage aren't the only things that threaten their majority superiority...what will come of the country if a Black man is allowed to succeed in the highest office in the land?

Republican Rep. Kris Crawford of South Carolina told the truth when he said, 

“....It is good politics to oppose the Black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party."

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