November, December, Sequester
I listened for a while yesterday to a recording of Congressional testimony on the expected effects of the upcoming sequestration of defense funds. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee last Tuesday were the CEOs from Lockheed Martin, European Aerospace Defense Systems (EADS), Pratt and Whitney, and a small aerospace business, Williams-Pyro.
I was struck primarily by the immensity of Republican hypocrisy.
What happened, if you remember, is that last summer, Congressional Tea Party members thought they could extort budget cuts by refusing to raise the debt ceiling (which allows the federal government to pay the bills Congress has already approved). An agreement finally was reached that the ceiling would be raised — but the cost was the Congress would appoint a special supercommittee (the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or NAMBLA) whose job it was to find around $2 trillion in deficit reduction. Keep in mind, this was only after Republicans rejected President Obama’s proposal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction.
As incentive to actually find $2 trillion in deficit reduction, the deal required that around $1 trillion in cuts, half to military and half to domestic programs, would be automatically triggered beginning the first of next year if an agreement could not be reached. As it turned out, the supercommittee superfailed, because Republicans absolutely positively unflinchingly refused to compromise. They wanted only to dictate their own terms, and to give up nothing.
Republicans now want to avoid the impending automatic cuts — to military spending. They don’t care about the domestic cuts (in fact, if the military cuts don’t happen, the whole $1 trillion will fall on — and virtually gut — domestic spending). So the Republican leadership in the House is holding hearings on how awful and rotten it would be if the military cuts actually went into effect as scheduled.
They want to renege on the deal.
They want their intransigence to have no consequences they don’t like.
Witness after witness called to testify before Congress on the effects of these agreed-upon cuts talked about how many jobs would be lost, how terrible it would be for American military capabilities, how much damage it would do to their companies and their suppliers. (All of the witnesses were CEOs of corporations with military contracts. Apparently corporations are the only people Republicans want to hear from.)
What a waste of time and of taxpayer dollars! Everyone knew these cuts would be bad. That was the whole point. Republicans had plenty of opportunity to consider that last fall when they prevented the supercommittee from doing its work.
Oh, by the way, if you remember Republican rhetoric during that circus, they insisted that we needed to stop spending money we don’t have. No differentiation was made on whether we should consider the effects of the spending, whether we should prioritize the programs to be cut. One got the impression that Republicans imagined government spending consisted simply of sucking in money like a magic vacuum cleaner, and producing nothing. Government spending was bad, period.
Now that there are actual cuts looming, Republicans want to rescind those cuts and spend that money anyway. Apparently, contrary to their rhetoric from a year ago, at least some government spending serves a purpose, and we should actually look at what the money is used for.
Remember too how we’ve been told, for years, that government spending produces nothing of value, no actual assets, no wealth (yes, they really say that). Yet witness after witness (and keep in mind, these were witnesses called by the Republican Congressional leadership) talked about how many jet fighters wouldn’t be built, how many tanks wouldn’t happen, how much vital research into jet technology wouldn’t be funded. One might think Republicans had been lying to us all these years.
Nor did the hypocrisy end there. These CEOs also spoke of how many jobs would be lost — hundreds from this plant which would shut down, hundreds from that supplier whose materials would not be needed. We’ve been told that government spending creates no jobs, especially not in the private sector. Apparently this isn’t true for government spending of which Republicans approve.
Some witnesses even warned that cuts to military spending could slow the economic recovery, that these cuts were the wrong thing to do while America was trying to come out of a recession — as if government spending could be stimulative. Wait…what?
There is hardly a point of Republican economic propaganda that Republicans haven’t contradicted during this charade. Well, perhaps one: no one suggested that revenues should be raised by increasing the historically low tax rates that have placed 43 percent of American wealth into the hands of the richest one percent of Americans and given 72 percent of our wealth to the top five percent. A whopping 83 percent of America is owned by the top ten percent of Americans. This immense accumulation of wealth at the top has happened while salaries for the rest of us have flatlined. The tax policies that have contributed to this redistribution of wealth weren’t mentioned…at least, not in the portion of the testimony I heard.
Other than that — the whole argument against federal stimulus, the argument that government doesn’t create jobs, the idea that Spending Is Bad, even the concept that Republicans have the slightest clue as to how to effectively govern — all of this was irrevocably undermined.
I shouldn’t be surprised any more, but I still have this romantic notion that elected officials should care about the good of the nation, rather than solely about irrational ideology or partisan rhetoric. We can hope the madness is temporary, and that Republicans will eventually see at least a little of the internal contradictions inherent in their positions.
- Let Sequestration Happen (nationalinterest.org)
- Republicans Abandon ‘Government Doesn’t Create Jobs’ Mantra In Fight To Preserve Military Spending (thinkprogress.org)
- Sequester hits home for Republicans (politico.com)
- Mean Girls (logarchism.com)
- House Dems meet with authors of book blaming GOP for dysfunction (thehill.com)
- House exceeds budget cap with huge defense spending bill (rawstory.com)
- Deval Patrick says President Obama has been a leader on deficit reduction (boston.com)
About dcpetterson (186 posts)
D. C. Petterson is a novelist and a software consultant in Minnesota who has been writing science fiction since the age of six. He is the author of A Melancholy Humour, Rune Song and Still Life. He lives with his wife, two dogs, two cats, and a lizard, and insists that grandchildren are the reward for having survived teenagers. When not writing stories or software, he plays guitar and piano, engages in political debate, and reads a lot of history and physics texts—for fun. Follow on Twitter @dcpetterson