Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

GOP threats not about spending cuts, but starving programs it doesn’t like

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True or false: Republicans like to cut spending and Democratic people like to spend.

This is the popular belief but it isn’t true, and even the parts that are true aren’t as straightforward.

In the last 20 years, the Republicans have cared about excessive spending twice, after extensive Republican runs as Democrats tried to increase spending on programs that were neglected under Republicans.

And when Republicans do care about cutting spending, their actions always come with the asterisk.

*Warning: Republicans only want to cut spending on programs that they don’t like. They will spend on things they like with no problem.

Now, in those two instances when Republicans care about excessive spending, besides underfunded programs that Democratic people like, we also have had severe economic problems. So when we need to spend money on infrastructure and on people who need help, they get pushed a side so that domestic spending can be cut.

The first time the Republicans went on this concerned rampage on spending, they threatened to shut down the government. While the PR from that time is the most remembered element, the GOP got a lot of what they wanted in domestic spending cuts.

Like Watergate, the GOP lesson isn’t in not doing something; the lesson learned is not to make it look bad. So magically, when the next time came to cut domestic spending, the threat to shut down the government also came back. And the Republicans were able to convince the public – okay, the MSM – that it wasn’t their fault.

The only two times that there has been a threat to shut down the government was a Republican-led House with a Democratic president. There is a developing pattern.

And now, there is the added threat of refusing to raise the debt ceiling. Sure there would be business and personal chaos on multiple levels. But this isn’t the Republicans’ fault: they have no choice.

Of course, the GOP is at fault. And it was their fault in 1995. The threats are a political strategy.

But the MSM thinks it is smarter than that. After all, they treat the incidents as a skewered football game. Even the folks at SportsCenter would be smarter on this topic than the MSM.

“Who won the battle?” The GOP. “Who lost the battle?” The American people. In 1995 and 2011.

Unlike 1995, even when the Republicans are clearly at fault, they insist that this isn’t their fault, it’s the teabaggers. Yep, the tea party is to blame for making them do this. Not up to the GOP, nope.

The ghosts of Edgar Bergen and Paul Winchell would be jealous since the GOP politicians’ lips don’t move when the teabaggers talk. Not that the teabaggers are saying what the GOP is telling them to say, just say the teabaggers are saying what the GOP politicians would say, if they could.

Bergen and Winchell knew their dummies were dummies, deep down. We aren’t so sure how the GOP feels about the teabaggers, but if they think the dummies aren’t real, their lips really aren’t moving.

Truly, the teabaggers aren’t the issue; the GOP is using threats from 16 years ago, long before the teabaggers were involved. Just that the success rate is increasing.

The GOP is getting those domestic cuts that they want in a time when this country needs more spending at home, not less. Millions are still out of work or severely underemployed.

And the MSM still treats this as a game.

Oh, but you might say, the Dems did “win” because the cuts weren’t made to Planned Parenthood. Well, like the GOP and welfare in the 90s, if you cut funding completely, you lose your villain. Can’t threaten to take away funding if there is no funding. Amtrak is still alive, after all.

When Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) gets up on the Senate floor and says well over 90% of PP funding goes to abortions, and it’s 3%. And then Kyl’s office says “his remark was not intended to be a factual statement.” Of course not, because the GOP attacks on Planned Parenthood have never been about facts. Ever. Or their other attacks on where funding goes in the domestic budget.

The perception that the Republicans want to balance the budget isn’t true. They want to starve the federal government and reduce domestic spending. They are glad to give out tax breaks for the rich and spend what little money is left on defense spending and wars. And then to “save” money, they had out contracts to private companies to fight “our” wars.

But this doesn’t wrap up well on the back of a postcard. “Republicans cut spending, Democrats spend” is easy, even if it isn’t true. “We have to make the threats, we have no choice” is easy, and it isn’t true.

And until we figure that out, the American people will be at the mercy of the threat-makers. And no matter how the negotiations go, the threat-makers are the winners and the rest of us are the losers.

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