Archive for March 11th, 2011
WC’s thoughts and sympathies are with the citizens of Japan, especially those on the east shore of Honshu. The images, videos and reports coming out of Japan this morning are, frankly, horrifying.
Alaska has its own sad history of earthquakes and tsunamis, of course; WC was in Alaska for the 1964 Good Friday Quake. He lost friends on the dock in Valdez. Like a lot of other Alaskans, he was shaken by the 2002 Denali Fault Quake, and learned to fill his coffee cup only half full during the weeks of aftershocks so his coffee wouldn’t slosh on his desk. Alaskans, like the Japanese, have an uneasy familiarity with earthquakes, but we are never blasé, never comfortable with them.
Japan is better prepared than any other country on the planet for this kind of disaster, but it will still be hard. Sorrow and anguish lie ahead. Planning and preparation will have saved lives, but not all lives. Lives, hopes and dreams will have all been destroyed.
Again, WC’s thoughts and sympathies.
WC has been alternating economics posts with less wonkish stuff. Even WC can only take macroeconomics in small doses. This will be the last econ post for a while. Probably.
WC grew up in an extremely conservative household. His parents, at least since 1952, never, ever once voted for anyone but a Republican. But WC’s parents taught WC that a primary purpose of government was to protect women and children. A government that failed to protect women and children, WC was taught, was committing slow suicide.
So WC thinks his extremely Republican parents would have been appalled by the current Republican plans for the budget. Here’s how the Republicans in the House are committing suicide with our country:
- Destroying 700,000 jobs, according to an independent economic analysis. After all, the Republicans can’t let the President pull the country out of the recession the Republicans created.
- Zero out federal funding for National Public Radio and public television. Fox News has pulled “lamestream” media so far to the right that NPR looks liberal. It’s not; it’s balanced. But Republicans don’t want balanced news, either.
- Cut $1.3 billion from community health centers—which will deprive more than 3 million low-income people of health care over the next few months. WC assumes Republicans are pretty sure that folks using community health centers won’t vote for them anyway. And they certainly can’t make big campaign contributions.
- Cut nearly a billion dollars in food and health care assistance to pregnant women, new moms, and children. Why? See point 4 above.
- Kick more than 200,000 children out of pre-school by cutting funds for Head Start. Oh, and about 55,000 teachers would lose their jobs. See points 1 and 4 above.
- Force states to fire 65,000 teachers and aides, dramatically increasing class sizes, thanks to education cuts.
- Cut some or all financial aid for 9.4 million low- and middle-income college students. At a time when America’s world leadership is faltering, and parents are struggling to get their kids through college, let’s make college expenses even harder.
- Slash $1.6 billion from the National Institutes of Health, a cut that experts say would “send shockwaves” through cancer research, likely result in cuts to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research, and cause still more job losses. The NIH budget has been flat for a decade. Do the Republicans really believe there’s waste?
- End the only federal family planning program, including cutting all federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood to support cancer screenings and other women’s health care. After all, Planned Parenthood has other programs – not supported by federal dollars – that permit a woman’s right to choose. Can’t have that.
- Send 10,000 low-income veterans into homelessness by cutting in half the number of veterans who get housing vouchers this year.
WC is baffled. Where is the outrage? These cuts won’t begin to solve the deficit. If the Republicans wanted to do that, they’d have to cut defense spending. They’d have to find a solution to the health care challenges that are driving up the cost of Medicare and Medicaid. This is kick the poorest third of America in the groin, for nothing except cheap political points.
WC notes that Congress could achieve twice the total financial savings from their meat axe approach by repealing the tax break it gave the wealthiest Americans. A modest burden on the wealthiest one percent or a nightmare scenario for the poorest third of Americans. For a Republican, it’s apparently an easy call.
But campaign contributions don’t color a politician’s attitudes, of course. And if you believe that, you also believe John Boehner’s tears.