Banana Republicans

— by CAP Action War Room

The Latest House GOP Meltdown Has Been A Long Time Coming, And It’s Not Just About Them

The same tumultuous group that led the Republican Party to control the House of Representatives is now at the center of the latest and most public display of Republican dysfunction, or as Rep. Peter King (R-NY) calls it, “a banana republic.” Amidst absurd infighting in the House over Planned Parenthood funding, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was more or less forced to announce his future resignation, leaving the GOP needing to find the next Speaker. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was the favorite to replace Boehner, until he unexpectedly and dramatically dropped out yesterday afternoon, leading members of Congress to openly weep and pronounce their caucus has hit “rock bottom.”

The media frenzy surrounding these events has focused on intrigue like it is an episode of “House of Cards.” Was there something behind why McCarthy took himself out of the running? Will Paul Ryan step up and run for speaker despite repeatedly pledging not to? But here’s what is much more important: this self-inflicted leadership breakdown is just one more chapter in a story of House Republican recklessness – and their own caucus hasn’t been the only victim. House GOP dysfunction has resulted in a string of harmful policies and American families have paid the price. Here are just a few examples:

  • The GOP orchestrated the reckless government shutdown in 2013 which had a devastating impact on our economy. Republican leaders bowed to the will of their extreme right wing to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act. The shutdown lost Americans at least 120,000 jobs, prevented sick Americans from enrolling in clinical trials, forced Head Start programs for children to shut down, stalled veterans’ disability claims, delayed $4 billion in tax returns for Americans, and severely hurt small businesses. Overall, S&P estimates that the Republicans cost the United States economy a whopping $24 billion with their shutdown.
  • The GOP has repeatedly used the debt ceiling to manufacture crises. In order to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States and avoid global economic collapse, Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling from time to time. Yet, GOP leaders have repeatedly joined with their unyielding Tea Party caucus to manipulate these once run-of-the-mill debt ceiling increases for their own gain. In 2011, the GOP threatened to force the United States into a default – to “crash the global economy,” as Time put it – which was only averted after both sides agreed to $1.2 trillion in economically damaging sequestration cuts. This behavior led to a U.S. credit rating downgrade. In 2013, the GOP used this brinksmanship again to attempt to make cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare, and the SNAP food program, again putting the credit-worthiness of the United States in jeopardy.
  • The GOP also used a manufactured crisis to force sequestration cuts that are still hurting the economy today. The Republican-induced sequester disproportionately hurt low-income and middle class families. It led to significant cuts to funding for education, small business, and health research. Sequestration overall will cause approximately 1.8 million people to lose their jobs.

Clearly, the GOP’s inability to control their own party has already caused a lot of damage to our economy and the well-being of American taxpayers. And yet, as their conference devolves again into chaos, they have no inclination to change their backwards policies or irresponsible behavior. They have no plans to avert the upcoming shutdown or increase the debt ceiling, even though the United States could default on its obligations if Congress doesn’t act by November 5th. House Republicans are not only distracted by their internal pandemonium, going into the upcoming budget negotiations they remain committed to the backwards, policy ideas and reckless political strategy that have caused so many problems for themselves, but more importantly for the American people.

BOTTOM LINE: The GOP’s current state of disarray has been a long time coming. The party’s leadership gave in to a minority of its members who are devoted to pushing devastating cuts to working-and middle-class families in pursuit of rigid and impractical ideological principles. The result has been a government in a state of perpetual dysfunction. And while House Republicans may be paying the price with negative news coverage, it is American families who pay the real price of their extreme policies.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. Like CAP Action on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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Support for Our Troops That Falls Short of the Mark

Amodei-SNAP02.fwFormer Vice President Dick Cheney took to Fox News on Monday night to lambaste the Obama administration’s proposed cuts to the military budget, lamenting the president’s desire to ensure that Americans have access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps — despite the fact that over 900,000 veterans currently depend on them.

Cheney appeared on Sean Hannity’s prime-time show last night to discuss the the fiscal year 2015 military budget as previewed on Monday afternoon. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey announced among other initiatives a reduction in the size of the Army, a fact that didn’t sit well with Cheney. While the hand-wringing that the Army will be smaller than at any point after World War II is mostly hype, the former vice president still readily agreed with Hannity’s premise that the proposed cuts are “dangerous,” lamenting that Obama has not had Reagan-like increases in defense spending.

“You know, I’ve obviously not been a strong supporter of Barack Obama, but this really is over the top,” Cheney said. “It does enormous long-term damage to our military. They act as though it’s like highway spending and you can turn it on and off.” Cheney also remains worried that in announcing a rebalancing of U.S. strategy towards Asia — and away from the Middle East that was the focus of his time in office — is just a cover for Obama to slash the military budget further and display his dislike for the military further:

CHENEY: They peddle this line that now we’re going to pivot to Asia, but they’ve never justified it. And I think the whole thing is not driven by any change in world circumstances, it’s driven by budget considerations. He’d much rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops.

Amodei-SNAP.fwWhat Cheney apparently doesn’t realize is that many of the same troops that he claims the Obama administration doesn’t support rely heavily on the food stamps that he wishes to cut. A Defense Department review released last year showed that military families were more reliant on food stamps in 2013 than in any previous year, with over $100 million in food stamp spending at military grocery stores. “Food stamp usage at the stores has more than quadrupled since 2007 as the recession compounded the already difficult financial situation faced by military families,” ThinkProgress’ Deputy Economics editor Alan Pyke wrote last week.

Despite his experience in first the Pentagon and then the White House, Cheney also seems unaware that many of the troops he supports depend on the same food stamp program once they leave military service. “Nationwide, in any given month, a total of 900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP to provide food for their families in 2011,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote in a recent analysis. Given the high unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans — 9.7 percent for those who served when Cheney was in office — it’s unsurprising that many of them need assistance from the government to help make ends meet.

And in spite of the large number of former servicemen and women that count on the program, Cheney’s Republican colleagues are still fastidiously attempting to skin it to the bone. As of last November, thanks to House Republicans’ demands, veterans saw along with their fellow beneficiaries a cut of $36 a month for a family of four to $11 a month for a single person. The result: food stamps now average less than $1.40 per person per meal. Given just how sparse benefits were, at just $133 a month on average before the cut, Cheney’s protestation against Obama for wanting to provide more to those who have served comes across as somewhat unseemly.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Latest GOP Budget Marks Latest Attack on Women

Budgets are statements of values and priorities. Based on the GOP’s latest budget, apparently the interests of women are not a priority.

Here’s a look at how the GOP budget is bad for women and children.

P2Pv3-0

Here’s a link to a comparison of the numbers of all three versions of Ryan’s Path to Poverty budgets. [Numbers compiled from 112-HCONRES34112-HCONRES112, 113-HCONRES###]

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You Might’ve Missed


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

NV-GOP: If you’re on Welfare, You Evidently Have a Drug Problem

James-SettlemyerNevada State Senate James Settelmeyer has decided all welfare recipients in Nevada must submit to a drug test because he was once told that welfare recipients are on drugs.

Settlemyer’s bill is similar to Florida’s failed drug testing bill and other states who have attempted to adopt the ALEC -crafted legislation.  It’s time to contact Sen. Settelmeyer and demand that he take back that bill a persue more productive legislation designed to resolve issues faced by everyday Nevadans.

 

Congress, the Fiscal Cliff and Tee-ing Off at Taxpayer Expense

Congress has adjourned until after the November election, but much is left on the table. Perhaps most notable are the “fiscal cliff” and Sequestration. In addition, they’ve done nothing yet wit the Farm bill which expired on Sept. 30, eliminating certain farm policies.

The Fiscal Cliff
Reports are coming in that Congress will attempt a long-term fix for the “fiscal cliff” during the lame duck session, establishing a framework for large reforms to be discussed in 2012. The “fiscal cliff” refers to the combined effects of the expiring Bush tax cuts and the mandatory Sequestration — both of which take effect in January 2013 if Congress takes no action. (The Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act, HR 8, lays out the House Republican proposal for tax reform negotiations.)

One tax break set to expire at the end of the year is the temporary payroll tax reduction (reducing rates from 6.2% to 4.2%), which was put in place as part of the ARRA (Stimulus package) and extended in December 2011. (See bill report for HR 3630.)

The Farm Bill
The 2008 farm bill officially expired on Sept. 30, eliminating certain farm and dairy policies. While the Senate passed its version of the 2012 farm bill (S 3240), the House did not pass their version, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM Act, HR 6083) before they adjourned.

Sequestration

In August 2011, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate passed the Budget Control Act, which established “Sequestration” — automatic, across-the-board cuts to federal spending to take effect on January 2, 2013 — if Congress does not act on further deficit reduction. The Sequestration requires $109 billion annually in federal spending cuts, resulting in a 9.4% reduction in defense discretionary funding and an 8.2% reduction in nondefense discretionary funding.

As far as I’m personally concerned, defense can use a serious haircut. Congress will scream and hollar about not being able to cut military spending for our troups, but believe me, there’s a lot more waste, fraud and abuse going on in the military complex that steals resources away from our troops that needs to end.

It’s time to stop maintaining things like championship golf courses on a large number of those bases as well as stop funding golf tournaments on those courses. It’s time to end the practice of high government officials and military elites being able to tee-off worldwide at taxpayer expense. They may only be spending “millions” ($15M) not “billions” with which to support their habits, but you and I know that when you’re out of work, a mere $15 can make a big difference in your life.  If the GOP is so gung-ho on privatizing things … hey, why don’t they sell those assets, apply those monies toward debt reduction, and privatize the courses.

The supply chains for the military services need some serious re-organization efforts.  Each “supply” division in each services suffers from some very serious waste, fraud and ineffectively-managed cost over-runs on contracts for goods and services.  Why do we have separate supply organizations for each service?  Why do we not have one over-arching supply division with subdivisions for each service to better take advantage of efficiencies? Why do they keep awarding contracts to suppliers who continually experience cost over-runs or time-delays, or who provide inferior products (body armor)?

It’s time to close an inordinately large number of overseas bases that were set up for “cold war” defense … well … the cold war ended under Reagan.  Why do we continue to send large amounts of taxpayer money beyond our shore to enrich private base contractors, like corruption-plagued former Halliburton subsidiary KBR?

“Why” have we never closed a huge number of overseas bases, and for “what purpose” are we still staffing and maintaining them?  Are they truly for our nation’s defense?  Or, are they merely for the protection of the interests of the multi-national corporations?  If their sole purpose is to protect the interests of the multi-national corporations, that’s another candidate for the GOP’s favorite activity: privatization.  As far as I’m concerted, they should closed and the multi-national corporations, that believe they should pay NO taxes, should pay for their own security.