According to Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times, the Republican budget goal for next year is simple and clear: if President Obama is for it, they want to cut it. “His priorities are going nowhere,” said Rep. Harold Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. But there’s obviously more to it. Here’s a quick taste:
On Tuesday, a House Appropriations subcommittee formally drafted legislation that would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 34 percent….education grants for poor students will be cut by 16 percent….The House transportation and housing bill for fiscal 2014 cuts from $3.3 billion to $1.7 billion the financing for Community Development Block Grants, which go mainly to large cities and urban counties for housing and social programs, largely for the poor….The Securities and Exchange Commission, which has been flexing its muscle against hedge fund managers and insider trading schemes, would see financing cut 18 percent from the current level….the Internal Revenue Service would be cut by 24 percent….clean water grants from the Environmental Protection Agency would be slashed by 83 percent.
I assume everyone can see the principle at work: If it helps the poor, slash it. If it reins in the rich, slash it. If it’s defense related, leave it alone. And if we don’t get 100 percent of everything we want, burn the government to the ground.
Here’s a simpleminded—but fair—summary of the past year: Republicans ran on a platform like this in 2012 and the American public rejected it. The deficit is already on a steep downward slope, which gives us a lot more breathing room than we had in the past. And the economy is still fragile, which makes even deeper austerity insane. In other words, pretty much every macro trend argues against either the need or the public desire for massive new spending cuts.
And yet Republican spending mania has gotten nothing but worse. They’ve gone from fanaticism to….what comes after fanaticism? Is there even a word? Nihilism? They obviously don’t genuinely care about the long-term deficit, since that’s almost solely a product of higher health spending and low tax rates. They just care about screwing the poor and helping the rich. Is there anything else left that animates them?