Krugman Figures Out GOP Pledge: No More Congress!

John Boehner might want to be Speaker of the House, but his party is proposing a budget that would eliminate the Congress altogether.  That is, if the Republicans have any intention to honestly follow their own "Pledge to America."  The Republicans are trying to garner the votes of fiscal conservatives by promising to cut taxes, protect spending on defense and entitlements,  and balance the budget.  Sure, that math doesn't add up.  But Karl Rove has "the math," as we all know.

But back on topic.  Paul Krugman explains just how much teh stupid in the Republican plan burns.
[A]s far as I can see, there’s only one specific cut proposed — canceling the rest of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would save $16 billion. That’s less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not specified — “except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.” In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits.
So how do you balance the budget by 2020 if you are going to protect the massive defense spending, not raise a single penny in taxes, and not touch entitlement spending?  Krugman clarifies, citing the Tax Policy Center:
So what’s left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.”
Of course, we can't expect much better from the GOP.  Their "plans" seem to be written by bratty sophomores in high school who are really, really bad at math.  But the real scary part is not that they suck at math.  It's not even that they are lying through their teeth, and they expect the American public to eat up that lie (and, regrettably, a big portion of the American public will eat it up).  No, the really scary part in this is what Krugman just described above is not that far from the real Tea Party conservative Republican agenda.  They will, if they can, eliminate all the good things in the federal government.

Republicans want a ban on all new federal regulations.  They want to starve the federal agencies that protect consumers from harmful products defunded - former Speaker Newt Gingrich gloated about it.



Let's go over the relevant parts in a partial transcript real quick, shall we? Here's what Gingrich says:
When we win control of the House and Senate this fall, stage one of the end of Obama-ism will be a new Republican Congress in January that simply refuses to fund any of the radical efforts... Under our Constitution, the Congress doesn't have to pass the money.   If EPA gets no budget, it can't enforce cap and trade.  If HHS gets no budget... So stage one of Obamaism being gone is to simply win this fall and then simply not fund it for two years.
Gingrich is of course not the only Republican bragging about defunding federal agencies and shutting down the federal government, as Robert Reich noted in his column earlier this month.  The man who would be Speaker should Republicans win control, John Boehner has refused to rule out a government shutdown.  So what happens if the federal government is shut down or the federal enforcement agencies has no money to carry out their statutory obligations?

Let's go with Gingrich and say EPA had "no budget."  What would happen?  They could no longer enforce clean air and clean water standards.  Safe drinking water coming out of the tap at your home?  Forget about it.  Keeping industrial air pollution off the playground your kids play on in the neighborhood?  Who're you kidding, Missie?  Preventing polluters from dumping raw industrial and radioactive garbage in your water streams and garbage disposals?  Who's going to stop them?  Don't want vehicles on your street rushing by and bellowing thick, black smoke?  Tough luck.  Don't want your kid's school's drinking water to have arsenic?  Hope you can afford a private school that can afford its very own private water purifying system.

What would happen if the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) didn't "have a budget?"  Want a way to complain and have your rights upheld when your insurance company drops you from their rolls because you got sick?  Don't waste our time.  Medicare reimbursements?  Just who's going to write the checks and send them when the government is shut down and HHS has no staff?  What, you have a flu breakout in your town and need federal help to contain it?  What federal help?  You are a single working mom and need Medicaid to cover your children?  Sorry, but Medicaid enrollments and payments have been suspended indefinitely.

These types of examples abound.  If the Republicans succeed in taking power and defunding the federal government and shutting it down, the FDA won't be able to enforce food and drug safety, the bank regulators won't be able to keep your banks from gambling with your deposits, and you and I will be left completely at the mercy of corporations whose highest motivation is profit, not safety.  You can say goodbye to things you take for granted right now, if the Republicans succeed in doing just what they are threatening to do.  How would you like to live in the middle of that hockey field without a referee?

For all the complaints about regulatory "red tape" we hear ad infinitum (and some of it is legitimate), the truth is, a certain amount of regulations and rules of the road is required for a free market to operate properly and to protect citizens, children, and consumers.  For all of the American skepticism against the government, parts of the government fulfills these functions that are essential for a society to function properly.  We need the EPA to protect our environment - remember that we do not inherit this earth from our ancestors but borrow it from our children - and the clean air and clean water.  We need the FDA to ensure that our food supply and prescription drugs are not going to kill us.  We need the HHS to ensure that children do not die from preventable diseases, and that insurance companies operate under a basic set of fair rules.

The current GOP leadership consistently refuses to embrace this reality, and in doing so, reject the safety and protection of Americans.  If we want to live in a civil society and not fall victim to Tea Party Republican governance, it is essential for us progressives to work in every way we can to ensure that we continue to move forward with President Obama at the helm, not walk backwards with the Republican roadmap to hell.