One of the important lessons Americans should have learned over the past six-and-a-half years is that when the voters elected an African American man as President, Republicans wholly embraced governing by crises. A person from outside of America may believe that Americans want government by crisis, but recent polling reveals that is not the case. It is particularly true when a Republican budget crisis is driven by religion to deny low-income women access to cancer screenings and reproductive health services. By now, most Americans are aware that Republicans could not possibly care less that even their supporters do not want a manufactured crisis to threaten a government shutdown, or that their resolve to maintain harsh austerity in their precious sequester will devastate hundreds-of-thousands of Americans’ jobs and thwart economic growth and continued recovery.
President Obama has pleaded, cajoled, and attempted to shame Republicans into sitting down and negotiating spending legislation for the next fiscal year before the October 1st deadline, but that would put a damper on the ‘govern by crisis’ plans favored by Republicans. What is surprising in a way is that there are Republicans who agree with President Obama that the time for negotiating a bipartisan budget that corrects the GOP sequestration disaster is at hand, but they are beholden to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his bosses Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee whose only religious bona fides are on the line. While Republicans in the House and Senate are driving the shutdown crisis and rejecting any proposal to negotiate a way out of the sequester, the Congressional Budget Office released a damning report about the economic tragedy of keeping sequestration cuts in place.
It was never reported by mainstream media, but a couple of weeks ago the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) formally announced, and warned Republicans that their promised failure to provide relief from automatically triggered cuts to critical national priorities would lead to 800,000 fewer jobs and 0.6% less economic growth; the CBO parroted President Obama, most Democrats, and a few semi-sane Republicans and recommended a bipartisan budget agreement to provide responsible relief from sequestration.
Specifically, the CBO determined that maintaining sequester-level cuts would lead to 500,000 fewer jobs and 0.4% less growth in 2016, and 300,000 fewer jobs and 0.2% less growth in 2017. For Koch Republicans, the idea of killing 800,000 Americans’ jobs and retarding America’s world-leading economic growth while an African American man is in the White House is just business as usual and a way to slow down the President’s economic success.
One of the biggest obstacles to getting a budget deal finished by the October 1st deadline besides the religious right’s demand that poor women be denied reproductive health services and cancer screenings through Planned Parenthood is Republican leaders demanding sequestration level cuts stay in place while military spending is increased. It is true the religious defunding crusade is a great help for Republicans intent on governing from crisis to crisis with shutting down the government as their primary bargaining chip, but the GOP leadership’s demand to keep sequester level domestic cuts in place is why there have been no negotiations to date.
In fact, the theocracy issue aside, the biggest obstacle, and why there have been no negotiations, is that Democrats insist that any increases in defense spending be matched dollar for dollar with increases in non-defense domestic programs. Republicans naturally want much, much, much more spending on the military paid for with many, many more cuts to domestic spending. Up to today, Mitch McConnell is never going to allow any negotiations to change sequester spending levels because he still claims the Budget Control Act, the Sequester, was the GOP’s greatest accomplishment in the past five years despite the damage it wrought on economic growth, job creation, and general welfare of the American people.
There are very few in government who believe the sequester was a beneficial crisis, and there are Republicans who agree with the President that the time to fix the sequester is long past. In fact, one Republican senator admitted that not all Republicans are crisis-oriented or willing to deliberately kill jobs and hamper economic growth. The anonymous Senate Republicans said, “A few of us have suggested that we should start talks and get something going with Democrats, but Mitch has been very consistent.” It is likely that McConnell is not enamored with the prospect of angering the real Senate and House leader Ted Cruz.
Last month, according to Representative Charlie Dent (R-Penn), several senior members of the “House Appropriations Committee, including the panel’s chairman, Representative Harold Rogers (R-KY) took a chance and actually told the Republican leadership that the time to negotiate a way out of the impasse is now, not in the shadow of the papal visit or a government shutdown Oct. 1.”
Like President Obama and a few Republicans, Democrats have also called for bipartisan budget negotiations to avoid a crisis including Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Reid laid out who is standing in the way of both avoiding a government shutdown and saving 800,000 jobs and economic growth. Reid parroted something that is a persistent issue when Republicans have a say in governing, “there is no good reason to wait until the last minute. We’ve known for months that government funding runs out on Oct. 1. Senate Democrats have been calling on Republicans for months – both publicly and privately – to sit down with us and work out a bipartisan path so that we can avoid another shutdown. So far, we’ve been met with nothing but silence. I say to my Republican colleagues, let’s get started – there is no good reason to wait until the last minute.” Bernie Sanders actually went along with President Obama and said, “We must end sequestration now ahead of the end of the fiscal year and prevent a budget showdown that will help nobody. It makes no sense to head towards a crisis when we have a clear path towards a better solution.”
It is tragic, actually, that over the past six-and-a-half years there have been clear paths toward better solutions than heading to another senseless budget crisis, but Republicans will not comport government without crisis unless they achieve their goals. The current goal is maintaining sequestration-level cuts for all domestic programs, increasing military spending, eliminating Planned Parenthood funding, drastically slashing social safety nets and eliminating anti-poverty programs; all demands that Democrats and President Obama will not support. Many Americans have been led to believe the emerging crisis is solely about Planned Parenthood funding, and that may be somewhat true. However, at the rate Republicans love killing Americans’ jobs and retarding economic growth that the CBO warned is the result of not addressing sequester cuts, pundits should consider the real impetus for the looming crisis is the GOP’s rejection of eliminating their precious sequester.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.