Congressional Republicans unveiled a plan on Monday that they said would hurt the nation’s economy, benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and add billions to the national debt.
The move is a continuation of Republican policies during the Bush administration and part of a plan they hope will lead to rising voter dissatisfaction and Republican gains at the ballot box.
“Remember how we racked up huge deficits during the Bush years, gave billions to the wealthy and let the middle class fall behind? Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R- Ohio) said. “We’re going to drive those unemployment and deficit numbers up so high that the American people will be voting Republican until they realize we screwed them over once again.”
Many of their efforts so far have been successful. Republicans blocked $30 billion in aid to small businesses, a $33 billion jobs bill and delayed a $34 billion extension in unemployment benefits. Their most recent attack was to oppose a $26 billion state aid plan that would keep an estimated 300,000 teachers, police and firemen from being laid off.
Republicans balked at keeping these public servants employed and were especially annoyed that the plan wouldn’t add to the national debt. Rep. Mike Pence, (R-Ind.) noted the plan is paid for through spending cuts elsewhere and by eliminating tax breaks for U.S. based companies that shift American jobs overseas.
Pence said helping the economy and sticking it to companies that screw over American workers was too responsible for Republicans to accept. Pence noted that he and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) strongly opposed the stimulus, yet still took credit for job fairs in their districts with companies receiving stimulus funds.
“Republicans aren’t just the party of no. We’re the party of no ideas. That’s why Eric Cantor and I took credit for the work of Democrats, even though we’ve been trashing it,” Pence said. “Of course, we’re also looking out for the wealthy and big corporations at the expense of everyone else.”
Republican leaders said they would be offering their usual lip service to the idea of deficit reduction—such as repealing part of Obama’s stimulus package that included a tax cut for middle income workers. Meanwhile, Republicans also opposed cutting $35 billion in tax subsidies for big oil companies. The money would’ve been redirected towards deficit reduction and grants to promote energy efficiency.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) showed a graph indicating that President Obama’s stimulus bill was just a tiny fraction of the national debt, compared to President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He called this proof of their irresponsible behavior and that their sudden conversion to fiscal conservatism was a sham.
“It’s amazing we Republicans haven’t lost all credibility yet when it comes to fiscal issues. Here we are calling for an extension of President Bush’s tax cuts, at a cost of $678 billion, to benefit those making more than $250,000 per year, while opposing a measly $30 billion or whatever to help out those who need it,” McConnell said. “How can we claim that $26 billion is too much to spend on cops, teachers and fire fighters while claiming that $678 billion for the wealthy is not?”
A recent analysis by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics found that every $1 spent on extending Bush’s tax cuts provides only a 32 cent boost to the economy, while cutting capital gains taxes provides a 37 cent economic boost. Conversely, the rates of return for every $1 spent are $1.61 from unemployment benefits, $1.57 for infrastructure spending, $1.41 in aid to the states and $1.74 from increased spending on food stamps.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), noted that tax cuts given to the wealthy usually gets saved, while money given to those who need it gets spent immediately which provides a boost to the economy.
“The guy who authored that study, Mark Zandi, was an economic advisor to my presidential campaign so it’s hard for me to deny that he’s right. Even President Bush’s own economic advisor said tax cuts don’t pay for themselves and Alan Greenspan said we should let the Bush tax cuts expire.” McCain said. “Yet we’re not going to let their logic or expertise keep us from being fiscally irresponsible, even as we claim we’re doing the opposite.”