A thought experiment today.
In recent years, Republicans in the US Congress, and in state legislatures as well, refused to approve budgets unless they cut programs. Which programs? Well, the ones that benefit the low and middle classes at the expense of the wealthy, of course. There are a number of kinds of hypocrisy here, to be sure. Two occupations and private defense corporation operations to the tune of $2,000 billion and counting? Republicans didn’t bat an eyelash to approve all of that. Tax cuts for the wealthy that weren’t balanced in the budget? No eyelash there either. A prescription drug program that cost additional billions of dollars? Yup, still no eyelash. Those are only a few examples of real costs that Republicans forced American taxpayers to pay for. Cost that grew the national deficit and debt – issues that Republicans cared about only when a Democrat (and a black one at that) became President. The Teabaggers didn’t get organized until the Kochs told them to get organized after Obama took office. I don’t want to go through with this experiment, but if a Republican in 2016 is elected President, I’m willing to bet the Teabaggers wouldn’t object to continued deficit spending – so long as it’s their ideological causes that receive the largesse.
Given all this, I play “what if” when I read news stories. Earlier this week, there was news that the Obama administration wanted to spend $236.3 million to eight states to improve electricity infrastructure in rural areas. Which got me to think, “Where would Republicans demand spending cuts for “fiscal conservatism” to remain true to their debt fetish?” Of course, Republicans will not demand spending cuts. But maybe Democrats should. In order to remain deficit neutral, what should we cut to spend $236.3 million taxpayer dollars – dollars that primarily came from urban areas by the way? Should we cut agriculture subsidies? Should we cut rural road spending? How about drought and flood insurance subsidies? See, this is where the rubber meets the road, Republicans. What are you willing to give up to spend money to ensure rural areas have power in the face of weather losses?
Or how about the problem of forest fires? By and large, this is a wilderness and rural problem. Fires are burning in Washington and Oregon right now. Where does the money come from? Again, primarily urban taxpayers. If Republicans want to cut SNAP money to veterans and children, why won’t they also propose cutting rural firefighting dollars as well? Because they know the former affects more urban Democrats and the latter affects more rural Republicans. Why don’t the mountain folks pull themselves up by the bootstraps and fight their own fires? Why must they continue their federal welfare addiction? Why do they like the nanny state so much? Wouldn’t fighting their own fires instill a little confidence in themselves so we could reduce the federal debt?
How much do Republicans really care about the debt? Only so much that it hurts their political opposition. Republicans are considered serious thinkers when they propose cuts to programs that keep people out of poverty, that keep American children educated, that keep our food and water safer than they otherwise would be – programs that by and large impact more urban people. The corporate media would make a clown out of any Democrat that, in the name of fiscal responsibility, proposed cutting programs that benefited rural populations. I for one would sure like to know when Republicans are ready to get serious about debt reduction.