If Republicans hadn’t taken the entire economy – the full faith and credit of the United States – hostage in 2011, there would not be a sequester. Period. End of story. What’s more, an overwhelming majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate voted in favor of the cuts. At the time, Speaker Boehner said he’d gotten 98 percent of what he wanted in the deal that wrote the cuts into law.
In the year and a half since Republicans demanded — and received — the cuts, they have rebuffed every effort to substitute something else smarter, more balanced and less damaging to the economy in their place . The president repeatedly offered significant spending cuts and changes to social insurance programs, including Medicare and Social Security, as part of balanced plan that also included new revenues, but Republicans always said no in order to protect millionaires and special interests from having to pay their fair share in taxes.
Just months ago, Mitt Romney and Speaker Boehner actively advocated for closing tax loopholes and eliminating giveaways in the tax code. But now Republicans are saying no in order to protect the wealthy and special interests like Big Oil and Wall Street. They say they now prefer spending cuts that stand to kill several hundred thousand jobs and could potentially drag the economy back into recession to raising even a penny more in new revenue. Just months ago, leading Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan said these cuts would “devastate” the country, but now they appear to be fine with them.
Here’s a few examples of what the choices we face actually mean — and which side Republicans are coming down on:
- Republicans will let the wealthiest Americans keep special tax breaks instead of funding our military.
- Republicans will kick 70,000 kids off Head Start and fire 10,000 teachers instead of ending giveaways to Big Oil.
- Republicans want to cut 1,000 FBI agents and aid to thousands of schools instead of ending loopholes that allow people like Mitt Romney to pay a lower tax rate than middle class workers.
- Republicans will cut thousands of food safety inspectors, which could shut down the entire meat industry, instead of eliminating giveaways for corporate jets and special tax breaks for horse breeders in Kentucky (the home state of Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell).
- Republicans want to cut unemployment benefits and loans to small businesses rather than end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
We need to reduce our deficit, but we should do it in a balanced, targeted way instead of with blunt, across-the-board cuts that will harm the economy. Instead of governing, the GOP is only interested in gimmicks and games. As the President said again last week, we have got to stop governing by crisis. Our economy cannot afford to play the GOP’s games any longer.
BOTTOM LINE: Once again we find ourselves facing yet another crisis manufactured by the GOP. It’s time for the GOP to choose sides: the middle class and the military or millionaires and special interests.