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What Will The GOP Cut?

What Will The GOP Cut?

The Republicans won control of the House and picked up seats in the Senate in the midterm election on nebulous promises to slash spending and reduce the size of the federal government.  House Speaker John Boehner has pledged to reduce spending to 2008 levels, as per the GOP’s campaign manifesto, known as the “Pledge to America.”

But as Andy Kroll reports in Mother Jones, while the Pledge calls for a 21.7% reduction in spending on non-security discretionary programs, it doesn’t commit to any specific cuts. Medicare and Social Security are safe from this round of cuts because they are not discretionary.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities tried to give a glimpse of what the federal government might look like if all eligible agencies took a 21.7% budget cut across the board. As Kroll notes, it’s more likely that some programs will be spared, some trimmed, and some eliminated entirely.

However, the CBPP’s analysis gives a stark picture of the magnitude of the proposed cuts, Kroll writes:

What it found was grim, with middle class Americans set to lose the most.

K-12 education funding, the CBPP found, would drop by $8.7 billion, and food stamps for at-risk pregnant women, infants, and young children would lose $1.6 billion in funding. State- and local-run housing programs would lose $6.9 billion, and children and family social services would lose nearly $2.2 billion.

Already pinched state budgets would take massive hits as well, losing out on $31.6 billion in federal funding.

Cuts to state budgets mean even deeper cuts to education and social services that benefit working families. Starving the states is also a strategy to force state governments to default on their pension obligations to unionized public sector workers.

But the magnitude of these cuts might be giving the GOP cold feet. In January, Speaker Boehner told Brian Williams at NBC that he couldn’t name a single program that he planned to cut.

Inequality is personal

Paul Buchheit points out on AlterNet that if middle- and upper middle-class families had the same share of the economic pie that they did in the 1980s, they would be making $12,500 more per year. In other words, the economy has become vastly more productive over the last 30 years, but the extra wealth has become overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of the very richest Americans at the expense of working families.

U.S. GDP quintupled since the 1980s, but most of the extra wealth has gone to the top 1% of earners. Nobody begrudges entrepreneurs a healthy return on their capital, but what about the 99% of earners who provided the labor. Where’s the return on their investment?

With looming government spending cuts to domestic programs, the middle- and upper-middle classes will face an even bigger hit to their real standard of living. Local and state governments are cutting back on services while hiking taxes and fees.

The richest 1% won’t feel these cuts as acutely as middle class families. If you have your own private swimming pool, you may not notice that the public pool is closed because the city can’t afford lifeguards. If you send your kids to private universities, you won’t be biting your nails over potential tuition hikes at public universities.

MLK’s legacy

The nation honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday. Roger Bybee of Working In These Times points out that, while King is remembered as a civil rights leader, he was also deeply committed to economic justice for all Americans. The politicians who praised King’s legacy on Monday should remember that Dr. King’s last great crusade was on behalf of sanitation workers in Memphis, public employees struggling for a decent standard of living.

Beck sets sights on 78-year-old CUNY prof

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews Frances Fox Piven, a 78-year-old distinguished professor of political science at the City University of New York, who may be the first person to inadvertently spark prime time conspiracy theory in the pages of a Media Consortium outlet. Right wing talk host Glenn Beck has identified Piven as the co-author of a violent blueprint to crash capitalism itself.

As Piven explains to Goodman, the bile stems from the suggestion made by her and her co-author Richard Cloward in a 1966 article in The Nation that social activists should help poor people access the benefits they were already legally entitled to. At that time, Piven recalls, the welfare system denied benefits to more than half of its eligible recipients. She and Cloward believed that the poor would become a more politically powerful and visible part of society if society suddenly had to make good on its promises of aid.

In July, Richard Kim of The Nation explained how an obscure 40-year-old article was recast as the “Rosetta Stone” of lefty politics, the blueprint to usher in an economic crisis which the left could exploit to bring about socialism.

Since Beck seized on Piven’s work and labeled her a violent revolutionary, she has been the target of death threats by commenters on Beck’s website. Political operatives posing as students came to her home to interview her. The interview later showed up on Andrew Breitbart’s conservative website.

Piven seems both concerned and bemused that her brief for reforming the welfare system of the 1960′s has been labeled as a blueprint for destroying the capitalist system.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. 

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Photo credit: wikimedia commons
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

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65 comments

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7:03AM PST on Feb 28, 2011

Individuals need to contact John Boehner and express your distress at the way the GOP is heading. Instead of Jobs they are attacking women's health issues, the unions and protecting the wealthy. Write your grievances to AskTheLeader@mail.house.gov
Please spread this email address to your friends, ask them to write a polite but pointed letter to this guy. He won't care but he won't like emails pointing out the stupidity of their stance on everything and failure to act like responsible citizens and public employees. (we do pay their big fat wages, cadillac healthcare and bloated pensions)

6:20AM PST on Feb 3, 2011

Slash the bloated military budget!

The regressive Republican Party of No is mean-spirited, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, corrupt, hypocritical, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution and global warming denying, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

NEVER vote for Republicans.

12:25PM PST on Jan 26, 2011

As far as the changes in the tax code are concerned, the left simply refused to LISTEN to what the Republican Party was saying during the hasty debate last year ... or they are deliberately distorting it for their own advantage.

They are concerned because those who the tax changes proposed would hit include most of the owners of the small and mid-sized business whose business income is treated as part of their personal income. That means that taking money from their own income means taking money from their BUSINESSES. Those businesses account for the overwhelming majority of the new jobs created in this country in recent years. Large corporations are certainly not expanding.

In this economy we cannot AFFORD to suck money that would fuel expansion OUT of these small businesses. That would cut our job growth.

If you want to challenge the Republicans on what they say, and make sure that they are really NOT just protecting the "super-rich", propose a further change in the tax code that would exempt personal income from people who run these small businesses and derive most of their income from that source from the higher rates, but impose them on the rest of the high-income people in this country. THAT should care for the Republicans' legitimate concerns over this issue.

If not, THEN you can rightly accuse them of hypocrisy and of just wanting to protect the super-wealthy. Right now, that argument totally fails.

11:58AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Personally, I like the joint statement on cuts in MILITARY spending issued by Ron Paul and Barney Frank. If those two, who represent very opposite views of the American political landscape, can agree on an issue as contentious as THAT, I am very heartened that perhaps Congress CAN work together to make this a better nation.

Let's just hope that their proposal gets taken seriously and followed up on. Military spending is the elephant in the living room, and we WILL NOT be successful in reducing our deficit and our debt until we tackle BOTH military AND domestic spending. Both need to be cut.

The only things that cannot be on the table, as Senator Everett Dirksen said about 45 years ago, is the pay for sitting federal judges (unconstitutional to cut that), and the interest on our national debt (would injure our national credit standing and dishonor this nation). Everything else is negotiable.

7:35PM PST on Jan 25, 2011

The GOP will cut everything and anything the middle class and the poor benefit from. The GOP works for the rich....and against the rest of us.

1:35PM PST on Jan 25, 2011

Think people, not only does the top 0.1% not run the country, they are in no position to even attempt it, but you are on to something about the "friends".

Wars are not won by beating the opposing side's "Generals" in hand-to-hand combat, wars are won by defeating the opposing side's army.

It's often said that capital is a coward, it will flee to safety at the first sign of trouble, and if there are no safe havens, it will negotiate for the best deal possible. The thing is, capital has no reason to negotiate, the robber barrons can rob, cheat and steal with impunity as they have an army of uneducated, backwater bumpkins supporting them. Your enemy is in fact some of your neighbours.

I am no match for the Koch Brothers, but by working with millions of others to crush the decimate the petroleum industry, not only can bankrupt the Koch brothers, we can take out their redneck allies who work in the petroleum industry....who are the people electing right wing nuts into legislative bodies.

here's one closer to home that we are using already. Most(very important, not all) small business owners? They are conservatives, so do NOT give them your business, as they are small, it doesn't take much to push them into bankruptcy, depriving right candidates and causes of funds.

This breaks the popular "the little people should band together" myth, keep in mind that that the populist movement in America is RIGHT WING.

11:29PM PST on Jan 22, 2011

Ok liberals. It's time to get what you pay for. That's right you don't pay for anything do you. That means you get nothing. You lay around and get fat then want free health care. NO More. Everything will be cut. People that work and create jobs and hire you fat liberals will have money to pay for what they need.

4:27PM PST on Jan 21, 2011

Simple. Everything that will negatively affect people with incomes less than 150,000 dollars a year and a net worth of less than 50,000 less a house. You gotta be crafty to carryout Economic Ethnic Cleansing! It reminds me of something I heard once, a bit removed, but applicable: A Liberal may wrap himself in the Constitution and say it's OK to burn a flag, but a Conservative will wrap himself in the flag and say it's OK to burn the Constitution. Or add an asterisk to the We, the People and include a net worth to the exclusion of all others in fine print at the bottom.

6:40AM PST on Jan 21, 2011

Nance N,
Ain't that the truth?

8:34PM PST on Jan 19, 2011

Politics are what they are - they won't change.

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