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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

GOP actions on debt shortsighted

Last week, with the specter of default and unprecedented economic calamity looming large, Congress and the White House signed off on a historic debt ceiling agreement that increases the government’s borrowing capacity and slashes $2.4 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years.

This agreement, though maligned by Tea Party adherents for not being far-reaching enough, was a decisive victory for the GOP. Speaker of the House John Boehner wasted no time in pointing this out to his underlings. In a conference call with all 240 Republican House members, Boehner arrogantly touted the fact that Republicans were able get everything they demanded from Democrats without having to make a single concession.

“”There is nothing in this (debt ceiling agreement) that violates our principles,”” Boehner said.  “”It’s all spending cuts. The White House bid to raise taxes has been shut down, and as I vowed back in May — when everyone thought I was crazy for saying it — every dollar of debt limit increase will be matched by more than a dollar of spending cuts.””

You’ve got to hand it to them. Republicans’ ability to turn a crisis into a political victory is quite remarkable. They single-handedly brought the country to the brink of default with their intransigence and have still managed to pull off a win. Democratic calls for additional tax revenue through the elimination of tax breaks and loopholes were completely ignored in the final agreement. What’s more is that the $2.4 trillion in spending cuts that Republicans demanded are just the tip of the iceberg.

The debt-ceiling bill will also set up a 12-member bipartisan committee whose job will be to identify an additional $1.5 trillion in spending reductions. If Congress does not approve the committee’s recommendations before the end of 2011, across-the-board spending cuts of at least $1.2 trillion will be triggered.

Republicans have won the battle over the size and scope of the nation’s deficit, but when their austerity regime goes into effect, they will be singularly responsible for the misery that will ensue.

We’ve already seen what austerity has done at the state level. In Arizona, public employees have been laid-off, college tuition has increased, and Medicaid recipients have been denied life-saving organ transplants.

The trillions of dollars in domestic spending cuts, which have been given a stamp of approval by Republicans in Washington, will put even more stress on state governments, leading to widespread despair throughout the nation.

With fewer federal dollars available, states will compensate by cutting more state-level jobs and services. Within the coming years, Americans should expect to see larger class sizes in all public schools, fewer police officers, crumbling infrastructure and chronically high unemployment. To worsen matters, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (federal programs that were designed to ease suffering in tough economic times) will be gutted.

Republicans can revel in their victory over President Barack Obama and the Democrats, but their hands will be stained with the blood, sweat and tears of the millions of Americans who will suffer prolonged hardship as a result of crippling despair.

Nyles Kendall is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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