“So be it,” said Speaker John Boehner to news that Republican budget cuts would slash over 200,000 jobs. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s response to Moody’s analyst Mark Zandi’s report that the GOP’s budget cuts would kill 700,000 jobs can be summed up as, “So what?” A confidential Goldman Sachs report also said the GOP’s proposed cuts would threaten recovery, and slow economic growth.
Getting Real About Jobs
“What kind of jobs is he talking about?” Cantor asked, “Government jobs?” Again, when progressives and conservatives talk about jobs we are not talking about the same thing.
To progressives, a job where you perform a task or provide a service to earn a paycheck that enables you to take care of your house, raise your family, feed your children, and invest in your family’s future is a “real” job. But to conservatives, a government or government-supported job is not a “real job,” because “real” jobs only exist in the private sector. (And “real” Americans only have “real” jobs, anyway.)
The nearest any Republican has come to speaking the truth about jobs — though, like the rest of his party, he had no plan to create jobs — was Mitt Romney at CPAC: “Fight for every job! Because every job is a paycheck and paychecks fuel Americans dreams. Without a paycheck, you can’t take care of your family. Without a paycheck you can’t buy school books for your kids, keep a car on the road or help an aging parent make ends meet.”
Those are the consequences of the GOP’s budget cuts. And GOP leadership says “So be it,” and “So what?”
Conservative Cuts Have Consequences
The Republicans’ budget cuts would eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, paychecks, and the American dreams they sustain. Lost jobs mean lost paychecks, and lost paychecks mean fewer dollars spent in shops, restaurants, and Main Street small businesses. Fewer dollars spent means even less work for even more Americans, even fewer jobs, fewer paychecks, and fewer Americans dreams realized.
Yet, the GOP base — and even its front-runners for the 2012 presidential election — are clamoring for a government shutdown, as a means to the same end as their budget cuts. Last time around, Michael Tomasky reminds us, 800,000 federal workers stayed home without pay. This time, hundreds of thousands of workers would be furloughed without pay again, halting vital services like veteran’s health care, and potentially holding up Social Security and veterans’ benefits. Many could lose their jobs, permanently. As usual, the poorest and most vulnerable would suffer the most.
Republicans have turned the old maritime disaster protocol, “Women and children first” on its head with budget cuts that put women and children first in line for economic pain. The New York Times notes that Republican cuts would take 218,000 children out of Head Start, and hit 2,400 schools and 1 million students with cuts to elementary education. Just look at Texas — 43rd in state rankings, with 61.3% a high school graduation rate, the most children without health insurance, and only 78% of children in good or excellent health — says Paul Krugman, if you want to know where the country is headed.
How, Krugman asks, can a state “prosper in the long run with a future work force blighted by childhood poverty, poor health and lack of education”? We will ask the same questions about the nation as a whole if the GOP’s budget cuts become reality.
Where’s the Morality?
John Boehner, recently had the gall to try and wrap all that he and his party would inflict upon American workers and their families in the mantle of morality. But the real “unsustainable and immoral path” here is the GOP’s road map to increased joblessness, greater inequality, more economic pain for those already suffering, and a subprime future for our children.
Rev. Jim Wallis reminds us that “a budget is a moral document,” that “reveals what your fundamental priorities are: who is important and who is not; what is important and what is not.” Republicans have given us their moral document, and revealed what their priorities are; who is important to them and who is not; what is important to them and what is not.
Of the carnage that would result, they say “So be it.” Of the economic body count of lost jobs, paychecks and American dreams, they say “So what?” These, in a nutshell, are their economic and moral philosophies. “So be it,” and “So what?”