Saturday, June 15, 2024

House Republicans want to make America suffer again

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 26: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to the media at the US Capitol on April 26, 2023 in Washington, DC. The US House voted and passed a bill raising the nation’s debt ceiling. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

The reckless and destructive federal spending cuts Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are demanding as a bribe to raise the national debt ceiling are a declaration of war against the American people. 

Like terrorist hostage takers, House Republicans say they will refuse to raise the amount of money the federal government is authorized to borrow when it runs out of cash as early as June 1 unless GOP demands for catastrophic budget cuts are met. 

Failure to raise the debt ceiling would force the U.S. government into default for the first time in history, turning Uncle Sam into a deadbeat unable to pay his bills on time. 

Such a default could delay Social Security payments to about 66 million retirees, people with disabilities and others; delay paychecks to over 2 million federal workers and 1.4 million members of the military; increase interest rates on credit cards, mortgages and other loans; and harm economies around the world.   

House Republicans have approved legislation calling for massive cuts in nondefense spending next year as the reward they expect for raising the debt ceiling for about a year. But the budget cuts would plunge our economy into a recession, wipe out millions of jobs, send interest rates skyrocketing, and cut vital government programs serving millions of Americans. 

social security checks
Social Security checks (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Black folks would suffer disproportionately under the Republican cuts. That’s because Black family income is 35 percent lower than white family income, the Black unemployment rate is 1.8 percent higher than the white rate, and systemic racism continues to harm Black Americans. 

But few Americans of any race would be spared the pain Republicans want to inflict on us all. In fact, the GOP cuts sound like a wish list drawn up by the leaders of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran to sabotage our economy and impose as much pain as possible on our population. 

Hypocritically, Republicans voted three times to raise the debt ceiling when Donald Trump was president and added $6.7 trillion to the national debt. And Republicans had no problem approving tax cuts Trump proposed that primarily benefitted rich Americans and corporations while sending the deficit soaring.

Fortunately, President Biden and Democrats, who control the U.S. Senate, are refusing to cave into the House Republican blackmail scheme this year. Democrats are willing to negotiate for spending cuts as part of budget talks but insist that the House raise the debt ceiling with no conditions.

Biden will meet on May 9 with House and Senate leaders of both parties to discuss the federal budget and the debt ceiling stalemate. Meanwhile, The New York Times reported Tuesday that Democrats might try to force a House floor vote on an unconditional debt ceiling increase, hoping to pick up at least the five moderate Republican votes they would need to win passage of the measure.   

Because House Republicans don’t want to cut defense spending, their plan to slash government spending would force cuts of 22 percent on other programs. And Republicans won’t even consider the possibility of raising taxes on rich Americans and corporations to reduce the national debt. 

According to a report by Moody’s Analytics, the Republican spending cuts and refusal to raise the debt ceiling could cause a recession and wipe out the jobs of as many as 2.6 million Americans in 2024 and eventually destroy as many as 7 million jobs. This could lead to a drop of an astounding $10 trillion in the wealth of American families and a nearly 20 percent drop in stock prices.  

In this March 16, 2020 file photo, a United States flag is reflected in the window of the Nasdaq studio, which displays indices and stocks down, in Times Square, New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

While Republicans falsely claim their budget cuts would reduce the national deficit, the cuts would actually cause America to pile up more debt. That’s because newly unemployed workers would pay less in taxes and would collect billions of dollars in unemployment insurance benefits. Businesses suffering through a recession would also pay less in taxes.

The House Republican legislation would also increase the deficit by canceling $80 billion in already-enacted spending to help the Internal Revenue Service better serve taxpayers and crack down on wealthy tax cheats. This investment would bring an estimated $120 billion in increased tax collections.

On top of this nightmare scenario, the meat axe Republicans want to apply to federal spending would have devastating consequences for tens of millions of Americans.

For example, the Republican legislation would destroy over 100,000 American manufacturing jobs in the clean energy industry, setting back efforts to combat dangerous climate change and prolonging American dependence on fossil fuels.  

Here are just a few other examples of the pain and suffering the House Republican budget cuts of 22 percent would inflict on the American people, according to the federal White House Office of Management and Budget. 

  • Some 81,000 people working for the Veterans Health Administration would lose their jobs, forcing massive cuts in medical care for military veterans. 
  • President Biden’s plan to cancel some college student debt for 26 million Americans would be eliminated.
  • The jobs of up to 108,000 teachers, aides and others serving 25 million low-income students and 7.5 million students with disabilities would be eliminated.
  • The Head Start program would serve 200,000 fewer preschool children. Another 180,000 low-income children would lose access to child care. 
  • About 1.7 million low-income women who are pregnant or new mothers and their young children would lose vital food assistance. 

Halloween is five months away, but House Republicans are dressing up early, masquerading as firefighters seeking to put out the flames of deficits hurting our country. In reality, the Republicans are arsonists doing all they can to burn down our economy and harm as many Americans as possible in the process.

The Republican political strategy is clear: make Americans suffer in hopes that voters will blame President Biden for the misery caused by the Republicans.

Let’s not let the Republicans succeed in their cynical political mission of destruction. 

Donna Brazile Headshot

Donna Brazile is a veteran political strategist, Senior Advisor at Purple Strategies, New York Times bestselling author, Chair of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, and sought-after Emmy- and Peabody-award-winning media contributor to such outlets as ABC News, USA Today and TheGrio. She previously served as interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee and of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. Donna was the first Black American to serve as the manager of a major-party presidential campaign, running the campaign of Vice President Al Gore in 2000. She serves as an adjunct professor in the Women and Gender Studies Department at Georgetown University and served as the King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at Howard University and as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. She has lectured at nearly 250 colleges and universities on diversity, equity and inclusion; women in leadership; and restoring civility in American politics.

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