Thursday, May 17, 2012

GOP will Cut Foods Stamps to Starve the Beast

Government spending went up under President Obama because it was supposed to go up. The dramatic increases in food stamps, TANF, and unemployment insurance was supposed to increase because of the social safety nets that were put in place to protect average Americans in the event of economic downturns.

And because of the last catastrophic recession, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Obama (and Congress) had no choice but to increase government spending to help millions of Americans who lost their jobs and their homes (yes, even Republican voters benefited from these same programs).

But let's not forget how the recession started: Under George W. Bush we had more deregulation, the out-sourcing of 52,000 factories (which Mitt Romney helped along), two unpaid wars, tax breaks for the rich (for which people like Mitt Romney benefited the most), and trillions more in spending for many other pork barrel projects (e.g. "The Road to Nowhere" for Sarah Palin). The recession was years in the making, so how can any sane person believe that one man with only 4 years in office, and with 2 years of Republican obstructionism, be expected to turn the economy around on a dime?

During good economic times, we were supposed to build up our reserves (like we did under Bill Clinton), but instead, the Republicans went on a spending spree. It was part of the GOP plan to increase debt, which I'll get to later. Now the GOP is complaining about "kicking the can down the road" when it comes to our government debt. And to fix it, the GOP wants the very ones who were the most hurt by the recession to suffer more.

Simply put, the GOP's plan for reducing the deficit is to cut food stamps and Medicaid (and other social programs) for the poor, cut Medicare and Social Security for the elderly and disabled, while at the same time cutting taxes for the rich, subsidizing profitable corporations like big oil, and subsidizing the rich and famous -- including Tea Party politicians such as Michelle Bachmann.

The Tea Party darling and Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her husband's "mental health" clinic (Bachmann & Associates) received nearly $30,000 from the government. They also received another $260,000 in federal farm subsidies. And on average, they also received $600 a month from the government for each of their 23 adopted children --- to feed them. But she and everyone else in the Tea Party and the GOP wants to cut food stamps for the unemployed and poor to balance the budget.

As an aside: In 2008, Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus moved from their 3,056 square-foot Stillwater Minnesota home where they had lived for 16 years and moved into a new 5,300 square-foot home (built in 2007). The new house, also in Stillwater (West Lakeland Township, Minnesota) is located overlooking the 18th hole on the StoneRidge Golf Course where couples memberships are $4,150 annually. Their new home ( 4 bed/4 bath) was priced at $1.75 million when it first appeared in the 2007 Parade of Homes and featured as a “dream home". Later it was assessed at $1.27 million in 2008, but the Bachmanns nabbed it for a cool $760,000. Michele Bachmann also owns a share of a 950-acre farm in the town of Montana in Wisconsin. Her share is worth $500,000 to $1 million. She never need food stamps. (Her house and farm are pictured at the bottom of this post.)

You may remember when Tea Party radical Mike Pence, the Republican U.S. Representative for Indiana's 6th Congressional, said of the U.S. government: "Shut it down!"

He wasn't being overly dramatic or exaggerating...he was dead serious, as are most of the Tea Party members in the House. It's all part of a real plan the GOP had hatched decades ago.

The U.S. debt is real, but the "crisis" is fake. As James Kwak, an associate professor at University of Connecticut School of Law and co-author White House Burning writes, even though it's "a real problem that needs to be addressed; we need to address it in the way that's best for the American people as a whole; that means preserving the social insurance programs that almost everyone depends on."

Yet the Republicans, the Tea Party, John Boehner and Mitt Romney are trying to turn the national debt back into a major political issue again. And you can expect the Republicans to bang on this drum from now until November.

"Starve the Beast" is a conscious strategy by conservatives to force cuts in federal spending by deliberately bankrupting the country. As conceived by the right-wing intellectual Irving Kristol in 1980, the plan called for Republicans to create a "fiscal problem" (or "debt crisis") by slashing taxes -- and then foist the pain of re-imposing fiscal discipline (austerity) onto future Democratic administrations (e.g. Obama) who, in Kristol's words, would be forced to "tidy up afterward."

Starving the beast is the fiscal-political strategy of American conservatives to cut taxes in order to deprive the government of revenue in a deliberate effort to create a fiscal budget "crisis" that is intended to force the federal government to reduce spending (rather than restore tax levels). The short and medium term effect of the strategy has increased United States public debt rather than reduced spending.

We saw this vividly played out last year when the Tea Party Republicans almost shut down the government, which resulted in having the United States' credit rating reduced.

Just recently Democrats controlling the Senate rejected for the second year in a row Wednesday a budget plan passed by House Republicans. The 58-41 vote against the GOP budget came after a daylong debate in which Democrats blasted Republicans for refusing to consider tax increases as part of a solution to trillion-dollar deficits.

The Republicans in turn attacked Democrats for not offering a budget at all. Republicans launched the debate, which was aimed less at successfully passing a bill than highlighting the failure of Senate Democrats to deal with a budget deficit expected to top $1 trillion for the fourth consecutive year.

The Senate was to vote on five separate budget plans, including one based on President Barack Obama's February budget and offered by Republicans to embarrass Democrats and the White House. It failed on a 99-0 vote. Three GOP senators elected in 2010 with Tea Party support also offered plans in a competition to see whose budget could cut government the most.

Now the Leader of the House John Boehner is threatening to shut down the government again.

Each GOP plan would sharply cut domestic programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits, and also calls for a dramatic transformation of Medicare that would turn it into a voucher-like program. Democrats called for a "balanced" solution blending tax increases on wealthier people with less severe spending cuts.

"We will not allow the debt and deficit to be reduced on the backs of the middle class and most vulnerable Americans without calling on the wealthiest to contribute," says Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) "That is not fair, it's not what the American people want, and it's simply not going to happen."

Many Republicans have already publicly come out and said they refused to compromise.

The GOP will do anything to have their own way and to get Obama out of the White House, even if it means shutting down the government, and to hell with America's senior citizens, the unemployed, the disabled, and the poor -- even if it means another downturn for America's credit rating.

The GOP wants to convince voters that the U.S. is spending too much borrowed money, but the GOP wasn't so concerned about debt when George W. Bush was the president; and the GOP isn't concerned enough to raise taxes on billionaires. Instead, the GOP's plan to fix this "sudden and immediate crisis" is to cut food stamps for unemployed Americans -- and then give more tax breaks to all the billionaires who laid them off. To literally "starve the beast".

While although I realize that half the members of Congress are millionaires, but still, if the GOP wants to force a government shut down (and is so adamant about cutting off funds to the most needy in our country), I would suggest that we first start with government handouts congressional paychecks.

See my other related post "Paul Ryan and the GOP has Waged Class War with Food Stamps"

(Below) One Beast the Government Didn't Starve - In addition to all her other government handouts, Michele Bachmann also gets an annual salary of $174,000 a year from the beasts.

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