In its latest 2012 report, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provided estimates of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s impact on employment and economic output in the first quarter of calendar year 2012, and the entire period since February 2009.
In total, CBO estimates the legislation will increase budget deficits by about $831 billion over the 2009–2019 periods (the estimate before enactment was $787 billion for 2009-2019).
If you recall, lawmakers enacted the “stimulus” in response to significant weaknesses in the economy. Its purposes were:
• Providing funds to states and localities
• Supporting people in need by extending and expanding unemployment benefits
• Purchasing goods and services by funding construction and investment activities that could take years to complete; and
• Providing temporary tax relief for individuals and businesses by raising exemption amounts for the alternative minimum tax, adding a new Making Work Pay tax credit, and creating enhanced deductions for depreciation of business equipment
The economy is recovering from the most severe recession since the 1930s, albeit slower than desired but positive growth is expected. The ARRA is estimated to raise real GDP by between 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent and increase FTE jobs by between 0.2 million and 1.3 million. It’s doing what it can do.
Compare this to 2001, when there was a projected surplus for 2008 of $651 billion. Instead, the economy moved in the wrong direction with a deficit of $407 billion, more than $1 trillion for 2008 alone. The economy lost 772,000 private sector jobs from Dec. 2007 to Sep. 2008 alone.
Another example of policy change occurred in March 2012. Officials at the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and the Treasury took the next step in the Obama administration’s effort to ensure women will have access to recommended preventive services such as contraceptives while respecting religious liberty.
Nevertheless, this has not preempted the nostalgia of extreme right wing conservatives longing to rewind the clock and take Americans back down memory lane. For this reason, actions of contemporary conservatives are reminiscent of times in history when barriers were officially implemented to perpetuate the status quo of inequitable institutions.
Is this your grandfather’s Republican Party? Sure, the approaches have evolved but the results are the same. The evidence is incontrovertible.
You also remember Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader from Kentucky, declaring early on in President Obama’s administration, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
This strategy was designed to win back all branches of government by any means necessary. The perk for conservatives has been the declining confidence in the American psyche regarding the state of the union. Without question, economic issues have presented abysmal challenges.
Yet, Republicans continue to engage in tactics aimed at derailing attempts by the Democrats to revitalize the economy. They endorse policies and pacts which benefit the upper class but are detrimental to middle and lower class groups.
To start with, House GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) crafted a budget that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, reduce taxes, decrease spending for defense, and reform entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid for the poor.
Federal and state governments jointly finance the cost of Medicaid under current law. The federal government is projected to provide nearly 57 percent of the total cost for Medicaid services in 2012.
Chairman Ryan’s proposal would shift some of the burden of Medicaid’s growing costs to the states.
Payment rates for providers under Medicaid are generally lower than they are under Medicare and private insurance. If states lowered payment rates even further, providers might be less willing to treat Medicaid enrollees. As a result, Medicaid enrollees could face limited access to care.
Next, the most renowned pact was garnered by Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform since 1986. It has been a major obstacle to forging a negotiable agreement between the Democrats and Republicans on the debt crisis. More than 270 Republican members of Congress and nearly all 2012 Republican presidential primary candidates signed a pledge. They promised to never vote to raise taxes despite concessions by Democrats for spending cuts in their most coveted programs.
Then recently on May 24, the GOP-led House approved a 2013 budget that would cut taxes for the wealthy, revamp Medicare and slash federal spending (translation- neglect the poor). It was a 228-191 party-line vote. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney has embraced the proposal. No Democrats voted for the measure and 10 Republicans voted against it.
In their new book, titled “It’s Even Worse than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism,” Tom Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute share their views about conservative extremism in the Republican Party.
“In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted,” Mann and Ornstein write. “Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.”
They explain that essentially, the Affordable Care Act is the 1993 Republican health plan. It was backed by the late Republican Sen. John Chafee (R-RI) and former Republican Sen. Dave Durenberger (R-MN) along with current Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). It was the alternative to President Clinton’s plan merged with elements of Governor Mitt Romney’s plan.
Republicans suddenly labeled their very own plan “socialism.:
Then there was the “appalling spectacle of hostage taking,” as Mann and Ornstein described last year’s budget crises, when Republicans threatened a government shutdown and public default in the name of fiscal responsibility. It did not matter that the country’s credit standing was threatened and U.S. treasuries were downgraded.
Suffice it to say, it has not mattered to most Republicans that Congress has failed to negotiate reasonable thoughtful solutions to the social and economic challenges of the day.
In the final analysis, the X- Factor is the only thing that seems to matter for modern Republicans: “Bring down President Obama.” But, does that bring about any sort of positive change?