The Republican Budget Is Madness

Bill Scher

Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure the American people didn’t vote last November for fewer jobs, teachers and cops and more sickness, pollution and hunger.

In fact, I’m sure the crazy one in this story is the House Republican caucus, which late Friday night proposed, in its spending plan for the rest of the current fiscal year, doing all of the above.

Where does one begin in this 21-page spreadsheet of cruelty? I suppose the women and children.

More Hunger

That’s right, the House Republican bill literally throws women and children overboard, cutting the program which currently provides food aid to nearly 10 million impoverished pregnant women, new mothers and children five and younger. Caseloads are expected to go up, yet the Republican plan cuts the budget by 10 percent.

But why only make Americans starve more? Let’s export our hunger too.

The GOP proposal eviscerates American efforts to alleviate hunger abroad by 40 percent. As the World Food Program USA explained Friday afternoon, when it expected a slightly less brutal cut, about 2 million children would “lose their daily school meal” and another 9 million would ” lose access to … lifesaving food” at a time when global food prices continue to escalate.

More Sickness

Apparently, conservative logic dictates that if you can’t afford to eat, why waste time going to the doctor.

Because the Republican budget slams community health centers that serve the low-income and impoverished, taking away $1 billion in funds and depriving more than 3 million people of medical care in the next few months.

Again, this devastating cut would come at a particularly vulnerable time: when high unemployment is currently increasing the numbers of the uninsured, but before 2014 when the health reform law will finally and dramatically expand coverage.

Think this won’t affect you? Think you’ll stay healthy even if you’re not poor and still can eat? Nope, the Republicans are gunning for you too.

The Republican budget also cuts the budget for food inspection, meaning fewer jobs in food inspection, when there are more food producers that need inspecting.

The Republican Party: dedicated to making the world safe for salmonella.

More Katrinas

I’m just going to cut and paste the FEMA line item cuts from the Republican spreadsheet:

FEMA – Management & Administration $24.3 million

FEMA – State and Local Programs $783.3 million

FEMA – Assistance to Firefighter Grants $510.0 million

FEMA – Emergency Management Performance Grants $40.0 million

FEMA – Predisaster Mitigation Grants $35.0 million

FEMA – Emergency Food & Shelter $100.0 million

Make The Kids Suffer

Conservatives love to say we must slash the budget so the next generation can prosper. I’m sure they plan to tell that to every American child personally as they cut their Pell grants for college and Head Start pre-school classes.

The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn chronicled the projected damage to the supposedly cherished children and grandchildren:

* About 8 million college students would see their Pell Grants fall by about 15 percent, with the maximum grants of $5,550 declining by by $845.”

* “More than 200,000 low-income children would lose slots in the [Head Start] program, although some of that may reflect the loss of funding from the expiring Recovery Act … and about 55,000 instructors and teachers could lose jobs…”

* “Title I grants, which help schools with particularly needy populations, would fall by $700 million, affecting 2,400 schools and one million children. Another 10,000 instructors and aides would likely lose their jobs…”

No Clean Energy Jobs, More Handouts To Big Oil

While the President is making high-speed rail a centerpiece of his plan to create millions of jobs revitalizing America infrastructure by investing about $9 billion annually, the Republican budget undermines the high-speed rail initiative with a $5 billion cut in this year alone.

Investment in other energy-saving initiatives is also hit hard, as well as in environmental protection, while Europe and China continue to prepare to capture the clean energy marketplace. Energy and water programs are cut by 10 percent. The EPA entire budget is slashed by $3 billion, and the agency would be banned from acting to cut carbon emissions, further stifling the emergence of the clean energy economy.

The $4 billion in subsidies via tax loopholes to the oil and gas industries? Fear not, they are untouched.

Who Needs Cops And Secure Borders

Think that the Republicans are only going after liberal pet projects? Think again.

The Republican budget eliminates the COPS hiring program, which … helps states and cities hire cops. The House Democrats estimate that it will result in 1330 fewer cops on the beat.

And it also cuts — Minuteman Alert!!! — $600 million for border security fencing and other immigration enforcement. (Where’s Lou Dobbs when you need him?)

I can only assume that by caving in to right-wing demands for truly brutal cuts, the GOP leadership had no choice but risk its reputation as the law-and-order party, and adopt cuts that would even make conservatives cringe.

But the fact is, maintaining law and order costs money too.

It’s money that taxpayers are generally willing to spend, knowing that it will produce healthy communities where we want to live, raise families, invest in homes and grow businesses.

The same goes for health care, education and clean energy. These are not examples of wasteful government spending. And as Jonathan Cohn notes, even where there are examples of programs that could use reforms to improve effectiveness, this Republican budget doesn’t offer reforms. Just cuts.

Furthermore, all the cuts above — as painful as they would be for real people today — are widely acknowledged to do nothing to change our long-range deficit estimates.

These are pillars of sustainable growth. To undermine them in the name of fiscal prudence is the epitome of penny wise and pound foolish.

Except foolish is too kind. This would be madness that, if it ever came to bear, would make us all needlessly suffer.

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