In the criminal justice system recidivism is the act of a person repeating an undesirable (criminal) behavior regardless they may have experienced negative consequences for their criminal act. Despite the negative consequences to the economy and American people after Republicans held the full faith and credit of the United States hostage during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, they kept their promise to repeat their crime and have listed their ransom demands three weeks before the government hits its debt limit in mid-October. The ransom Republicans demand to do their jobs and pay the debts they incurred for their two wars and tax cuts for the rich are typical conservative faire and inordinately punish nearly every demographic equally; they also reward the GOP’s paymasters in the fossil fuel and banking industry.
Despite the President, Democrats, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew telling Republicans they will not negotiate over the Republican rejection of their constitutional mandate to pay bills they put on the nation’s credit card, they proceeded to lay out a list of demands likely written by the Koch brothers and Wall Street CEO’s. In fact, to pay the ransom, President Obama will allow the Republicans to either drastically cut or effectively eliminate federal agencies their campaign donors oppose such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). They also intend on raiding federal employee pensions and making truly Draconian cuts to healthcare and social services for the working poor. Of course, no Republican ransom demand would be complete without an order to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and putting an end to the Affordable Care Act.
One might ask what Republicans intend to do for the American people, but as usual the answer is punish them because they expect House Republicans to do their jobs. Besides punishing the people, Republicans demand that the President and Democrats let them eliminate nearly all the legislation passed during the first two years of the President Obama’s first term starting with Dodd-Frank financial reform. Wall Street railed against financial reform before, during, and after the legislation passed, and congressional Republicans want authority to slash funding for the CFPB to the tune of “$5 billion in budget savings” they are calling an “overhaul.” The entire annual budget for the CFPB is approximately $450 million so in Republican-speak, overhaul means elimination. Federal regulators have been complaining that GOP budget cuts severely limited their ability to police financial excesses, so the Republican answer is overhaul the agency out of existence. Speaking of overhaul, Republicans will cut federal employees pensions by $84 billion in a scheme they are calling the Federal Employee Retirement System reform.
Republicans also intend to reform the Environmental Protection Agency by blocking the its ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and coal ash, and gives congressional Republicans veto power over any regulation the fossil fuel industry does not like. According to the rules, any new regulation would have to earn an affirmative vote in Congress, and Republicans will be able to void new rules simply by not voting. The oil industry likely instructed Republicans to include provisions to expand offshore drilling and drilling on federal lands in the ransom list that authorizes immediate approval for constructing the Keystone XL pipeline.
As incredibly generous as the Republican ransom demands are for the fossil fuel, Wall Street, and banking industry, they balanced out largesse to their corporate donors with an array of Draconian and inhumane cuts to social services and domestic programs. The ransom includes increasing Medicare means testing, and completely eliminating social service block grants given to states to fund services like daycare, transportation, and home-delivered meals for disabled people and elderly shut-ins. They also intend to eliminate a fund for women’s preventative healthcare in the Affordable Care Act that GOP misogynists characterize as a slush fund, as well as defund the Prevention and Public Health Fund set up to train new primary care doctors. However, eliminating aspects of the Affordable Care Act is redundant because delaying implementation of the entire law is a major Republican demand that rounds out the GOP’s adverse effects on the population exceeding the damage they wrought on the nation in the 2011 debt limit hostage crisis.
If Americans remember, during the 2011 debt limit crisis S&P downgraded the nation’s rating just because Republicans held the debt hostage and it cost America $18.9 billion in extra interest charges. Financial experts warn that if a new round of threats and “negotiations” are protracted leading up to the mid-October cut-off date, financial markets will react negatively. In fact, stocks have already begun falling in recent days despite a “favorable Federal Reserve announcement on monetary policy meant to allay fears over another debt ceiling crisis.” According to former Office of Management and Budget Director, Republican Jim Nussle, any debt ceiling worries will cause “repercussions that our economy right now doesn’t need, doesn’t deserve at a time when it’s just trying to get back on its feet.” It is stunning that Nussle fails to understand that thwarting economic recovery is part and parcel of any Republican plot, and if they can enrich the fossil fuel and banking industry while punishing working Americans, they will repeat John Boehner’s words after the 2011 debt ceiling debacle; “I’m pretty happy I got 98% of what I wanted.”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew wrote a letter to Speaker John Boehner informing him that the debt ceiling would be reached on October 17, and that the Department of the Treasury Department would have less cash on hand than expected to meet existing obligations. It had to be encouraging to Boehner because he has about three full weeks to add more ransom demands to raise the debt limit and that can only mean more gifts to the Kochs’ oil industry and Wall Street CEOs, and more cuts to social and domestic programs. It is nearly impossible to believe Republicans will be satisfied giving Wall Street banks free reign to crash the economy again, or giving Koch-funded Republicans in Congress veto power over the Environmental Protection Agency. It is noteworthy that with three weeks to devise harsher “reforms” and “overhauls,” there is the little issue of Social Security “reforms” John Boehner promised nearly a month ago and if they are anything like robbing federal employee’s retirement fund, retired Americans are going to be in for a Social Security overhaul Republican style.
If one looks at the 2013 ransom demands to raise the debt limit, it is easy to discern that Republicans are holding the debt hostage in exchange for dismantling the federal government and ceding control to the oil and banking industry. These demands are a composite Ryan budget, Koch “policy meeting demands,” and ALEC social policy reform package all rolled into one ransom note, and as is their wont, the people are the big losers. They will lose clean air and water, protections from predatory banks, social and domestic programs, and their retirements all so congressional Republicans will do their job and raise the debt ceiling like they did unconditionally for George W. Bush seven times. Any American with an ounce of sense will look at the Republican ransom demand and see it for what it really is; an official declaration of war on the people and Republicans as surrogates for a Koch brother coup d’état.