Friday, February 4, 2011

Republican Cuts: Loud Bark, Tiny Bite

I don't agree with the Republican consensus on much, but I do agree that the national debt and deficit are a problem that needs fixing. Unfortunately the Republicans on the House of Representatives Budget Committee have now revealed their real plans for fiscal 2011. They are not trying to cut a trillion from the $1.5 trillion deficit. They are not even cutting a tenth of that, $100 billion, as they had originally promised. They are down to cutting just $32 billion. Maybe they are hoping most people who did not go to sleep after the last election have trouble keeping the difference between a billion and a trillion clearly in mind.

Rhetoric is a campaign circus designed to delight voters. Then there is the reality of being in Washington and realizing you are just a $200,000 per year clown surrounded by trade associations that dwarf billionaires in the amount of money and clout they can heave around. Consider, too, who really gets hurt by budget cuts.

The Republicans worship, as the sacred cows in their Trinity, the Free Market, the Pentagon, and Homeland Security. So most of the imperialist bloat is off the table as far as budget cuts. That leaves what is called Domestic Spending.

Congress does not spend money unless someone lobbies for it, so every bit of spending has its defenders. Republican rhetoric is that spending goes mostly to welfare bums and to bureaucrats who spend their days sharpening pencils for writing more regulations.

Consider Food Stamps. That's just a taxpayer give away to welfare bums, right? Wrong. It is a direct subsidy to two big, Republican-dominated, corporate industries. Grocery stores love food stamps. Corporate agriculture loves food stamps. Food stamps don't amount to much for any given family on welfare, but aggregate them over say a chain of Safeway stores or Archer Daniels Midland, and those billions become uncuttable.

And so the mostly middle-class angry men of the Tea Party and their leader Calamity Jane can elect all the prayer-obsessed idiots they want to Congress. Without food stamps the Free Market degenerates into ruinous competition. Same for funding science. Same for funding just about everything.

The $32 billion in cuts were so small the New York Times article did not even bother to mention exactly where they would come from.

Keeping up the rhetoric, the Democrats on the Budget Committee said the almost nonexistent cuts "will harm the economy and put more people out of work."

My guess is by the time the budget is actually passed, if it gets passed at all, another $100 billion in pork will be added in. Maybe $50 billion could be used to form a Department of Tea Party, Constitutional, and God Studies. Give all those Tea Party guys and gals good paying Federal jobs, and soon they will be singing a more harmonious tune.

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