Republicans now controlling the House promised Thursday to slash domestic agencies’ budgets by almost 20 percent for the coming year, the first salvo in what’s sure to be a bruising battle over their drive to cut spending to where it was before President Barack Obama took office.
“Washington’s spending spree is over,” declared Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman who announced the plan.
The White House says the GOP effort could cause widespread furloughs of federal employees, force vulnerable people off subsidized housing, reduce services in national parks and mean less aid to schools and police and fire departments.
Popular programs such as health research and federal aid to school districts appear likely to take a hit when lawmakers write the spending bill for the departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services.
Tax cuts for the rich prioritized over all else.
I note that former Labor Secretary and current Berkeley professor Robert Reich, in his Twitter feed (@RBReich) today, backs up a point I made about these proposed tax cuts being a precursor to Republican efforts to launch an assault on domestic spending and entitlements — using the federal budget deficit made so much worse by these tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires as their rationale.
I said: “I recognize that this issue isn’t specifically about education, but it is inexorably linked. Given President Obama’s apparent unwillingness to go to the mat for Democratic principles (and his own campaign pledge!), Republicans have succeeded in extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires — not just for the first $250,000 or $1,000,000 of their income, but all of it up to infinity. The total cost of all the proposal’s tax cuts is $900 billion. Republicans’ likely next step is too take off their “tax cutter” hat and don their “deficit hawk” cap, saying that the federal government is living beyond its means, and will fire away at domestic spending. You don’t think education will avoid being in their crosshairs at that time, do you? You know that this is more than simply a ploy to line the pockets of rich Americans, right? It’s part of a plan to bleed government dry and then argue that government programs need to be reduced, eliminated or privatized.”
Reich wrote: “$900 b tax cut w/ lion’s share for rich explodes deficit and makes future domestic discretionary spending sitting duck for R cuts.”
Yes, folks. This isn’t just about tax cuts for the richest Americans. This is but a front in the war to reduce the size of government regardless of its collateral damage to Americans who need government the most.
Economic inequality is already at an all-time high in this country — even higher than prior to the start of the Great Depression. Our educational system only has a finite amount of power to overcome such overwhelming inequities. If these forces are left unchecked, it may become an impossible job, especially as education programs themselves may fall victim to all-too-easily-predictable budget cuts.
At least the House Republicans can say that they kept this promise. This proposal shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.