How wildly irresponsible are the Republicans and their frenemies (friends? enemies? both? who knows!) in the Tea Party? Well, as the New York Times explains in its lead editorial this morning, they’re about to shut down the government even though Democrats have already “gone much too far in giving in to the House demands for spending cuts” – $33 billion, which is actually $1 billion MORE than Republicans themselves were seeking back in February. Also, I’d point out that $33 billion is a drop in the bucket (2% or so) compared to this year’s $1.65 TRILLION deficit, and it does next to nothing about the long-term, structural deficit problem our country faces (to do that, you’ve got to address “entitlements” and defense, which is where the money is), so it’s clearly not about the deficit, as Republicans and their Tea Party frenemies claims.
So, what is this all about and why are Republicans about to shut down the government? The New York Times explains:
If the federal government shuts down at midnight on Friday – which seems likely unless negotiations take a sudden turn toward rationality – it will not be because of disagreements over spending. It will be because Republicans are refusing to budge on these ideological demands.
Abortion. Environmental protection. Health care. Nothing to do with jobs or the economy; instead, all the hoary greatest hits of the Republican Party, only this time it has the power to wreak national havoc: furloughing 800,000 federal workers, suspending paychecks for soldiers and punishing millions of Americans who will have to wait for tax refunds, Social Security applications, small-business loans, and even most city services in Washington. The damage to a brittle economy will be substantial.
So, there you have it. Republicans and Tea Partiers claim they care first and foremost about “the spending” and “the deficit,” yet what they’re fighting for right now in Congress has essentially nothing to do with either of those things.
Let me repeat: the current “budget fight” is NOT a fight over the budget after all, given that: a) Democrats have already (foolishly) given in to Republicans on their $32 billion demand; and b) what’s left is Republican “policy” riders completely unrelated to “the spending” or the deficit. The point is, if Republicans and the Tea Partiers really cared about “the spending” and the deficit – let alone the economy! – above all, they’d be acting completely differently here.
But they’re not acting the way people would act if they really cared about “the spending” and the deficit, and that says it all. Instead, what they really care about is their far-right-wing social/corporate agenda of defunding health care reform; doing as much damage to the environment as possible (and serving their Dirty Energy industry/Koch brothers funders/allies); denying anthropogenic climate change; ensuring that consumers aren’t protected from predatory lenders; and above all, making sure that not one penny of federal money is spent helping women prevent unwanted pregnancies and/or have an abortion if it (unfortunately) comes to that. Believe it or not, that’s why the Republican Party – pressured by its Tea Party wing – will be shutting down the government.