Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
On Friday evening, the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, officially ended negotiations with President Obama over the debt ceiling by walking out of the talks and then refusing to take phone calls from the White House. In a letter released after he walked out of the talks, Boehner claimed that President Obama was refusing to agree to real spending cuts and was asking for too many tax increases. But in reality, President Obama offered more than $1 trillion in cuts to discretionary spending (including military spending), and $650 billion in reductions in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security spending, and asked for $1.2 trillion in increased revenue coming from closing loopholes and subsidies but not increasing tax rates. And this proposal followed others that were similarly tilted toward the conservative position. In fact, the offers being made by President Obama were so tilted that a number of conservative commentators thought it ridiculous that the House GOP was refusing to accept the deal.
So, what gives? Why is the GOP refusing to accept a deal that is more than favorable to their claimed interest in reducing the deficit? The answer is simple – today’s Republican Party does not actually believe in deficit reduction, but instead is holding our country’s fiscal solvency hostage in order to achieve radical ideological and political goals.
The ideological motivation for conservatives here is that they think they finally have within their grasp their dream of drowning in the bathtub any portion of government that benefits the middle class, working class, or poor. They have long wanted to destroy Medicare, Social Security, investments in infrastructure and education, and the social safety net, but they know that such steps would be politically disastrous for them. So, Republicans have spent the past 30 years driving up deficits in order to create a situation where voters feel that we “must” destroy government programs in order to restore fiscal sanity.
That is why the Republicans drove the deficits up during the Reagan and W. Bush Administrations. That is why Rep. Paul Ryan’s Path to Poverty plan devotes all of the “savings” from abolishing Medicare and cutting social programs to further reductions in taxes for the wealthy, rather than to deficit reduction. That is why the GOP opposes President Obama’s to rationalize health care spending, cutting corporate subsidies, or reining in military spending. And that is why the Republicans are opposing a balanced approach to deficit reduction that involves both spending cuts and revenue increases and, instead, pushing for a “Cut, Cap, and Balance” approach that involves $5.5 trillion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and discretionary social spending, and zero in new revenue. Their priority is destroying government, not reducing the deficit.
The GOP’s pathological intransigence is also motivated by the cold economic calculation that a bad economy bodes well for their desire to defeat President Obama in 2012. That is why from the day that President Obama took office in January 2009, the Republicans have done everything they can to prevent job creation, including weakening the stimulus bill, filibustering TANF and extended unemployment benefits, refusing to approve non-controversial appointees to important positions in the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, and opposing tax relief to small businesses and a temporary cut in payroll taxes that they supported before Obama was President. And in 2010, the GOP campaigned on jobs, but they still have yet to propose any legislation that would create actual jobs. And now they are already rattling the economy and the markets by pushing our nation to the brink of having to default on its debt. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear, the Republicans’ number one priority is not job creation or economic recovery but, instead, is to try to ensure that President Obama is defeated in 2012. Holding the debt ceiling increase hostage in the name of dismantling our government is a critical part of the GOP’s attempt to achieve that goal.
In short, the GOP has walked away from the debt ceiling negotiations because their goals are destroying government and defeating President Obama, not because they want to reduce the deficit. It is sad that today’s GOP has put their ideological hatred of government that helps anyone but the rich, and their dislike of our President, ahead of the good of our nation. But the reality is that the GOP has, which makes it necessary for all of us to make sure those folks do not have any significant political power after the 2012 elections. Help rescue America from the Republican hostage takers by “Sharing” this post and by writing a letter to your local newspaper editor.
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