The Unbearable Cruelty of the GOP Budget
The House GOP released a budget proposal on Tuesday. It arrived with the resounding thud of so much dead paper, which is exactly what it amounts to. It’s all familiar stuff, not unlike the last four GOP budgets, with the usual deep cuts to the nation’s social safety net, a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and endlesss contortions to make it all look as though everything will work out just fine:
Without relying on tax increases, budget writers were forced into contortions to bring the budget into balance while placating defense hawks clamoring for increased military spending. They added nearly $40 billion in “emergency” war funding to the defense budget for next year, raising military spending without technically breaking strict caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act. The plan contains more than $1 trillion in savings from unspecified cuts to programs like food stamps and welfare. To make matters more complicated, the budget demands the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the tax increases that finance the health care law. But the plan assumes the same level of federal revenue over the next 10 years that the Congressional Budget Office foresees with those tax increases in place — essentially counting $1 trillion of taxes that the same budget swears to forgo.
The only mildly amusing thing about this latest effort at rolling the nation back to the 19th century is how, when confronted with questions about how the numbers in their budget stubbornly refuse to add up to anything coherent, the GOP resorts to what amounts to a crude attempt at Jedi mind tricks:
When asked how his budget deals with the lost revenue, Price did not point to any data, but insisted that the lower burden on taxpayers would spur more growth and therefore bring in more revenue. “We believe in the American people and we believe in growth,” Price said. “The amount of spending that’s done here in Washington, we believe to be at a level that we can rein in. But just decreasing spending or reining in spending is not going to get us to the kind of economy that we want, or the kind of economy that will allow the American people to get back to work and realize their dreams.”
Massive cuts to programs that help the least fortunate? Check. Inability to explain how the budget conforms to reality? Check. A lot of blather about believing in America? Check. Yup. Looks like a GOP budget all right. While this iteration has a better chance of passing than did the last four, what with both House and Senate firmly in the hands of the GOP, it’s extreme enough that passage in its current state is implausible.
So, as actual policy, it’s almost meaningless – the only meaningful thing about this budget lies in it’s symbolism. And the symbolism here is unpleasant. People on Medicaid, the poor, those receiving food stamps, those who are now insured thanks to the ACA? These are groups who represent unneeded expenses, dead weight. They will lose close to $2 trillion under the proposed budget. What does the GOP care about? Defense spending, of course, where they intend to add $90 billion in spending. Which is neat, since there’s no way that money would ever be misused or mismanaged. Except, oops:
The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen, amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials.
Fraud, waste, negligence, and abuse of government monies is only an issue, it seems, if it is done by the “little people.” The GOP budget makes it very clear where their priorities lie: not with protecting the least fortunate or maintaining a social safety net, but with lining the pockets a select and wealthy few. Is it any surprise that the defense industry gives far more to Republicans than to Democrats? Didn’t think so.
This budget demonstrates, fundamentally, that the GOP does not care about you or I.
This budget demonstrates, fundamentally, that the GOP does not care about you or I. It would be nice to imagine that the GOP base, many of whom continue to vote against their own economic interests, would take this as a wake up call, and abandon the party that treats them with such cynical cruelty. The chances of that happening, I’m afraid, are not good. The GOP has been playing this sick game for a long time, and has yet to reap the bitter harvest from it that they deserve.
In the end, as I’ve said before, this latest GOP budget is essentially meaningless. It is far too extreme to make it through the Senate, where even Republican members look askance at the frothing rhetoric and policies emerging from the House. Even in the unlikely event of the Senate allowing this monstrosity of a budget to pass, it would be almost certainly be met with a veto. And the House GOP leadership is well aware of this. No, this budget is nothing more than a symbol of the fundamental cruelty of the GOP’s ideology: red meat to a slavering base. It is full of sound and fury and, in the grand scheme of things, signifies nothing.
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