MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yesterday, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote about the vast harm that the Tea Party and the House Republican caucus (along with the Senate Republican caucus) have done to the American economy and to decreasing job growth.
Yes indeed, with "The Tea Party and the Economy: It's Like Putting an Arsonist in Charge of the Fire Department." Paul Krugman also opined on the ruinous impact of the rabid Right Wing in a column, "The Damage Done":
Elections have consequences, and one consequence of Republican victories in the 2010 midterms has been a still-weak economy when we could and should have been well on the way to full recovery.
But why have Republican demands so consistently had a depressing effect on the economy?
Part of the answer is that the party remains determined to wage top-down class warfare in an economy where such warfare is particularly destructive.
Think of Obama's sudden emergence of spine as having kept the dam of the American economy from bursting, wreaking havoc throughout the nation -- with a devastating global impact had the nation defaulted. Yet, due to the Tea Party (financed largely by the likes of the Koch Brothers) and Republican Ayn Randians such as Paul Ryan and the opportunistic Ted Cruz (along with the less fanatic, but, nonetheless, austerity-driven Mitch McConnell) the dam is still leaking like a sieve. It hasn't burst, but the jury is still out on whether or not the dam will break open from all the holes blasted open by the alliance of libertarian oligarchs with neo-Confederate populists.
Let's look at just one example: sequestration. The Republicans in Congress insisted on potential sequestration (automatic cuts in the domestic and military budgets) as a condition of raising the debt in 2011. It would go into effect if there were not successful "auterity" negotiations on the national debt. There were not, and sequestration went into effect this year. The Republicans in Congress were probably emboldened because the media and the US public hardly has taken notice as sequestration went into effect this year and is still in place.
This summer, the AFL-CIO blog listed "25 Ways the Sequester Causes Real Harm to Real People." These include: "kids kicked out of Head Start"; "increased homelessness"; "elderly adults not being able to eat"; "loss of unemployment benefits"; and much more damage to a large swath of US citizens, not to mention the economy.
Amidst the fanatic zealotry of the Tea Party "Jefferson Davis Wannabes," it is jaw-dropping to realize that the Democrats had already conceded using the sequestration figures in the federal budget that the House Republicans rejected -- and then finally accepted. Yes, the federal budget that didn't pass and then did pass incorporates the sequester as the continuing budgetary standard.
So when the Tea Party Republicans were whining that the president wouldn't negotiate with them, they were doing so shamelessly knowing that they had rejected a budget that was already negotiated to their lower federal spending figures that are cutting many social network progams to the bone.
Given that the Republicans in Congress continue to oppose new sources of revenue (higher taxes on the rich and the closing of corporate and financial institution loopholes, along with perhaps some financial transaction taxes), the likelihood of the austerity juggernaut continuing is high.
Basically, the federal budget and debt have been negotiated since Reagan largely on Republican terms.
Despite the unexpected firmness with which President Obama held the dam from collapsing in this crisis, the economic reality is that the Republicans still control the frame in which the budget and the deficit are negotiated -- and that first sequester is still in place, with a second stage of deeper cuts possible in 2014.