Yesterday, House Republican leaders tried to tamp down a conservative revolt within the caucus, explaining that to support deeper cuts than initially proposed would mean destroying jobs. NYT reported:
[House Appropriations Char Hal] Rogers and other Republicans warned that doubling the cuts could have substantial consequences for federal agencies, resulting in layoffs and furloughs of federal law enforcement officers and air traffic controllers, steep cuts in education and medical research programs and major changes at the Food and Drug Administration.
But today, Rogers and the GOP leadership caved in to the right-wing, announcing that the upcoming “continuing resolution” bill necessary to keep our government open would include those job-killing spending cuts.
The original, smaller Republican proposal was already quite cruel and misguided. As my colleague Richard Eskow noted, it foolishly undercut law enforcement, food safety and disaster management. And my colleague Dave Johnson pointed out that it attacked jobs programs including high-speed rail, environmental cleanup and worker training.
But that wasn’t good enough for the majority of the austerity-obsessed Republican caucus.
Either they are believing their own claptrap that America will become Greece unless we hack government to bits, or they are eager to pass a bill they know the Senate will reject in hopes of causing a government shutdown when the current spending resolution expires March 4. Or both.
The Republican leadership has only itself to blame for its inability to restrain its reckless right-wing. Speaker John Boehner routinely maligns America’s fiscal standing with false hyperbole, repeatedly and wrongly saying, “We’re broke.” But if that’s what you’re telling everyone, it’s hard to argue against any limits on slashing spending.
If the Speaker and his allies can’t convince their caucus to accept a little compromise between Republicans when it comes to cuts, it raises a very disturbing question:
Will the Republican leadership be able to scrounge up enough votes to pass a compromise with the Senate to keep the government functioning in March, or to prevent America from defaulting on its debt obligations later in the spring?
it’s bad enough when the congressional leadership decides to put the American economy at risk by grinding the gears of government to a halt, as Republicans did in 1995. But at least when a unified party decides to do it, it can collectively decide to end it.
Today, we may have a situation where the GOP leadership may not want to suffer the political fallout from closing the government doors and breaking our debt contracts, but don’t have the leadership skills to prevent it.
It would appear the only way we will avoid a calamitous economic meltdown is for GOP leaders to find a way to stand up to the delusional in its own ranks. They haven’t done it yet.