Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Republans Demand Ransom

Robert Reich has a few details:


In order to avoid a shutdown last week and buy time until March 18, the White House agreed to more spending cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year than it originally put on the table. Now, in order to get past March 18, Republicans want even more. Democrats have offered to cut an additional $10.5 billion but Republicans want $61 billion. The White House is hinting it's ready to compromise further.


That means they'll have to agree to split the difference -- which will result in around $35 billion of additional cuts. Not in Social Security or Medicare or national defense -- no, those programs are too popular or politically potent for any short-term political deal. The $35 billion will come out of what's called non-defense discretionary spending for the rest of this year.

Non-defense discretionary is 12 percent of the federal budget. It's also where most federal education programs appear, as well as most programs for the poor apart from Medicaid. In effect, a third of non-defense discretionary spending is handed over to states and locales. Which means cities and states will be taking a huge hit. Detroit is already making plans to put 60 students in each of its high school classrooms.

This is ludicrous.


"Ludicrous"? Prof. Reich is far too kind. Perhaps he has never taught a class containing 60 students. When I was a graduate fellow teaching music theory to undergraduates, class sizes were 20 to 30... all of them very young adults with raging hormones and friends around them to distract them from a subject they really didn't like very much. Sixty? Detroit has got to be kidding! But without the federal money, that's what they probably will have to do.

This is what Republans do. This is who Republans are. Perhaps the Party of Lincoln desires a return to Honest Abe's legendary self-teaching by firelight, writing with coal on a shovel. But I suspect they never really even think about it. Their only criterion for deciding any matter whatsoever is this: "What's in it for my big-money donors?" That's the sum total of their concern, and everyone else can go to the devil as far as they are concerned.

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