It is nearly impossible to understand what motivates human behavior, especially when the result is bound for failure or catastrophe. For nearly four years, political observers proffered several theories to explain why Republicans have made governing an exercise in futility. Also why they have had no compunction in causing undue damage to the economy and the American people who elected them. It is entirely possible they are so entrenched in neo-conservative ideology that they are unable to recognize their gross and egregious adherence to a failed economic theory. This does not entirely explain their willingness to jeopardize the economy or people’s well-being. Many pundits believe the GOP’s obstruction was a result of Republicans hating President Obama more than they love America. Although it is true, there must be more to the story than just hate for one man, and a Republican representative may have revealed the GOP’s dysfunction that is preventing a working government.
On Friday last, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi introduced a discharge petition that, if signed by 218 members, could force the House to take-up the Senate-passed measure extending Bush-era tax cuts for middle class Americans. Some Republicans showed a willingness to allow the vote, but Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) explained that he would not sign the petition because, “I’m not going to give control of the floor to the Democrats.” Whether or not Duncan realized it, he revealed what many observers have alluded to for four years; Republicans cannot accept they are not in charge. Now, after losing another election, the Republicans have a plan to unleash austerity on America regardless that the people rejected them at the polls. For two years Republicans voted for Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget that, simply put, is austerity for 98% of the population and more entitlements for the rich and their corporations.
It is possible Republicans will compromise on increasing tax rates for the rich, but there are murmurs they may allow a vote on extending middle class tax cuts, but not extend the debt ceiling, unemployment insurance, payroll tax holiday, or close tax loopholes; they will concede nothing to the President. The thinking is after the holiday recess with the economy over the fiscal cliff, Republicans will hold the debt ceiling hostage. Then sending America’s economy into a GOP-caused recession, they risk triggering a GOP-caused global financial crisis. Their goal in such a risky maneuver is enacting harsh austerity measures they voted for in the Path to Prosperity budget for the past two years, and lacking control of the Senate and White House, their only chance of passing it is taking the nation’s economy hostage. It is a power play to wrest control of the government to cut taxes for the rich and corporations, and cut social safety nets, privatize Medicare, and cut Social Security in a grand austerity plan destined to fail.
Last week, news from England revealed conservative’s admitted their austerity measures failed miserably and it is no surprise to real economists, or this column, who have warned, in vain, that austerity during a weakened or recovering economy is a disaster. Still, despite overwhelming evidence, Republicans are hell-bent and duty-bound to slash large portions of the government as part of their Norquist-induced war on government, and by extension, the American people. There is little doubt Republicans love war, and in 2011 with control of the House, they declared war on the people with Ryan’s Heritage budget filled with cuts to every program that help all the people while cutting corporate and the wealthy peoples taxes.
The austerity doomsday scenario may explain why John Boehner made a worthless counter offer to the President’s solution to deficit reduction to avoid the fiscal cliff. Republicans have never wavered from their austerity plan and it explains Boehner assigning Paul Ryan as lead fiscal cliff negotiator with his Path to Prosperity budget as the final goal. Independent economists have warned Ryan’s austerity budget will damage the economy.Also this will increase the deficit Republicans saddled the American people with over eight Bush years and make them repay the Republican debt with cuts to nearly every program that does not enrich corporations and the rich.
Americans surely understand Bush Republicans indebted the nation with two wars, tax cuts, a Medicare prescription plan that are still adding to the deficit and that Republicans are attempting to force the American people to pay with austerity. The unfunded wars, tax cuts, and Medicare debt increases the deficit every day, and it was acceptable when a Republican was in the White House. Republicans’ abhorrence of deficits now belies former vice-president Dick Cheney’s assertion that “We learned from President Reagan that deficits don’t matter,” until there is a Democrat in the White House.
There is little argument the nation’s deficit needs to be addressed, but Republicans only consider cuts that adversely affect the people, and they are readily apparent in Ryan’s budget. Whether it is out of contempt, ideology, or misguided economics, they have no compunction punishing the people and making them atone for re-electing President Obama. They are also punishing the people by making them pay for Bush-Republican economic malfeasance they would repeat if they won big in the recent election. If there is one defining feature of the Republican agenda for the last four years, it is they have not supported one piece of legislation to help 98% of the people. They have supported entitlements for big oil, corporations, Wall Street and the rich and they have subsidized them with Americans’ tax dollars and spending cuts. If they have their way America shall also suffer severe austerity and it looks like in lieu of controlling the government, they will resort to hostage taking.
It is time to stop referring to Republicans as petulant children, or ideological maniacs; they are worthless power-hungry sore losers, and if they cannot be in charge, then they will prevent anyone else from governing. They are evil megalomaniacs, and they will continue punishing the people for re-electing President Obama who wishes to raise taxes on the wealthy. Republicans will hold the economy hostage to enact austerity measures to gut Medicare and Social Security. The vindictive Republicans are not qualified to govern, and if they cannot punish the people with austerity, they will hold the government hostage, cause a recession at home, and a global financial collapse that will make going over the fiscal cliff insignificant.