Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 10, 2010

TARGETING PROGRAMS THAT DON'T EXIST (BUT SHOULD).... For those hoping for even a modicum of competence from the upcoming House Republican majority, this does not bode well.

Note to the incoming Republican majority in the House: Eliminating government programs that do not exist does not save money.

Of the few specific cuts that Congressional Republicans have proposed in their promised assault on annual budget deficits, one of the biggest by far would save $25 billion over 10 years, they claim, by ending an emergency welfare fund.

The Republican Study Committee, which includes more than 100 of the most conservative House Republicans, promoted the idea in a statement this week, saying, "With the national debt quickly approaching $14 trillion, Washington needs to get serious about cutting spending."

Well, seriously, the fund expired Sept. 30.

Obviously, there's plenty of surface-level stupidity to marvel at here. The Republican Study Committee thinks it can save $25 billion by eliminating a program that doesn't exist. One would like to think these guys would put a little effort into their work, especially given the fact that spending cuts are presumably the issue they care about most.

But the layers of stupidity go much further. Note, for example, that the Republican Study Committee believes it can get $25 billion in savings from a program that cost $2.5 billion, which doesn't make any sense. Also note, RSC Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) called for eliminating the program as part of "welfare reform," which is completely crazy, given that the program is welfare reform.

And then there's the more fundamental question: why are right-wing congressional Republicans so anxious to kill effective jobs programs?

At issue here is something called the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund, which should have been one of the most popular programs in Congress. A key component of the Recovery Act, the fund subsidized jobs with private companies, nonprofits, and government agencies, and single-handedly put more than 240,000 unemployed people back to work in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Governors, including Mississippi's Haley Barbour (R), have sung its praises, and urged its extension. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) called it an "important social safety net program." In July, CNN called the TANF Emergency Fund "a stimulus program even a Republican can love."

Except, Republicans didn't love it. After the House passed an extension, the Senate tried but came up short. Three times, Senate Democrats tried to keep the program going, and three times, the Senate GOP refused.

With unemployment near 10%, Republicans killed one of the most successful and cost-effective jobs programs in the country. And this week, because they don't believe in doing their homework, Republicans tried to kill it again, having forgotten that it's already dead.

Last week, much of the American electorate signaled its belief that GOP officials can be trusted to know what they're doing. That trust is badly misplaced.

Steve Benen 10:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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And then there's the more fundamental question: why are right-wing congressional Republicans so anxious to kill effective jobs programs?

Because they give my hard-earned dollars to lazy, shiftless brown and black people who are too lazy and shiftless to work hard and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, which is the American heartland way, blah blah blah and so on. (But mostly the brown and black part.)

Posted by: bleh on November 10, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

The up-coming "War on Decimals" will turn that $2.5 billion into $25 billion in savings!

Posted by: recloyd on November 10, 2010 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

the Republican Study Committee believes it can get $25 billion in savings from a program that cost $2.5 billion"

-there's that pesky decimal point again! And, like the so-called "Zero", it was invented by furriners. What next? Sharia Math?

Posted by: DAY on November 10, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

They got their info from their usually reliable source - a blogger somewhere in India

Posted by: John R on November 10, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

People love the rhetoric of fiscal responsibility. It's the reality that's the problem.

Posted by: davidp on November 10, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats had any talent for (or, even, interest in) capitalizing on Republican gaffes they could point out - endlessly - that these so-called lawmakers are STUPID and should be laughed out of the room.

Instead, we will get the usual news accounts of "Democrats and Republicans disagree on whether ending a program that costs $2.5 billion can save $25 billion".

Posted by: PowerOfX on November 10, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

You don't think they're going to tell you what they're really going to cut are you? They want the coming evisceration of the New Deal to come as a total surprise.

Posted by: Doctor Whom on November 10, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

I came across an article written in England about Obama's chances for re-election on 2012. The author thought his chances were pretty good, unless there's a double dip recession, in which case he would be "toast."

So, given the open statements of Republicans that their number one priority is defeating Obama in 2012, what motivation do the Republicans have for creating jobs or improving the economy? Reclaiming power is the goal, so they can continue their gutting of America - they don't give a rat's ass about anything else.

Posted by: delNorte on November 10, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatism today is a fundamentalist religion.

How can Republicans vote to kill a program that creates jobs? The same way a Christian Scientist can let his child die from appendicitis rather than taking them to a doctor.

How can Republicans ignore the successes of programs like the TANF Emergency Fund? The same way a literalist Christian who believes that the Earth is 7000 years old will insist that fossils are hoaxes planted by Satan to deceive the Faithful.

You can't find "common ground" with a fanatic. All you can do (if you reject "second amendment" solutions ) is get them voted out of office.

Posted by: SteveT on November 10, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK
Last week, much of the American electorate signaled its belief that GOP officials can be trusted to know what they're doing.

They signaled no such thing. They signaled that they couldn't care less whether GOP officials know what they're doing or not, so long as whatever it is that they're doing pisses liberals off.

Go sell your copies of The Federalist Papers and Richard Hofstadter and Arthur Schlesinger to an unsuspecting AP US Government student. "What will piss liberals off?" is the only principle for governance you'll ever need.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on November 10, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

The flip flop by Rand Paul, ardent quasi leader of the elected Tea Party/Teapublicans, last week over his earlier opposition to earmarks and now bringing the bacon home to Kentucky can be explained by the fact that his state is a major net recipient of Federal tax flowing to his state. It is hard to wean a socialist state off of the kind, chronic and generous tax dollars sent from the blue states to almost all the red states.

You absolutely should read this set of non-partisan charts to be enlightened about who is doing what to whom: http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/22685.html

They will blow you away!

Please consult this set of data (1981-2005) that shows the red states are chronically subsidized by the blue states, with only a very few exceptions. Just tell the Tea Party to keep the Federal spending in the various states in the same proportion that the money is paid in. That would suddenly impoverish the red states, the ones that constantly and incorrectly call the blue states bastions of socialism.

A map of the net Federal spending recipient states fits nicely with a map of the red states, and vice versa with the net Federal tax contributor blue states!

It will change the way you think when you realize that, as an example, California sent $43 Billion more to the federal government in 2005 than it received back, and this has been going on for decades across the country. Enough is enough! It's time for a tax revolt!

Posted by: enough3 on November 10, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, just let them have a vote to kill the program that's already dead already. It won't hurt anything, and phantom cuts are better than actual cuts at this point in our economic recovery.

Posted by: danimal on November 10, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Death panels are only for folks making min wage and less.

Bernanke printing money for non human assets is pro-life.

/snark

Posted by: Kill Bill on November 10, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

How do we get these articles out to MSM for the masses? The people were led to the creek by ill-informed pundits and over-reaching Repubs and now we're going to get the spin to show how hard they are working to do nothing. I bet we don't see these mistakes criticized in the MSM enough to even alert the masses how wrong they were to elect this party of power-hungry politicos.

Posted by: gcsitnek on November 10, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

While I feel the TANF should have been saved, the calculation of $25 billion in savings seems clear enough to me.

The last authorization for the program was $2.5 billion for one year, so the calculation for saving $25 billion over ten years by not continuing the program works.

Posted by: Old School on November 10, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

As for Bleh's comment, tsk, tsk, wake up and smell the coffee. The color of YOUR skin has nothing to do with whether you have a job, by reading your post, I'd guess it's you bigoted attitude that works against you.

Posted by: gcsitnek on November 10, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

why dont they kill their government jobs and K street?

Ayn Rand said that the love of money is the root of all good.

Completely contradicts theology.
"The love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV)

They are all libertarians now.

Posted by: Kill Bill on November 10, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

gcsitnek: Sigh, being sarcastic. Figured the "blah blah blah" might be a clue.

Posted by: bleh on November 10, 2010 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

And then there's the more fundamental question: why are right-wing congressional Republicans so anxious to kill effective jobs programs?

Because they give my hard-earned dollars to lazy, shiftless Fox News watchers & dittoheads who are too lazy and shiftless to work hard and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, which is the American heartland way what Fox and their overpaid personalities preach, etc.

Maybe when Fox News discovers their advertisers are getting a poor return on their investment bacause their audience has lost their government stipend...

Posted by: Ray Waldren on November 10, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Silly you, Steve, for interpreting this as anything but a dog whistle to the GOP's crazy base. The GOP's false persona depends entirely on feeding the bases's outrage about "big government," which is GOP code for the government taking money from white people and giving it to brown and black people. If a program has the word "welfare" in it, that's just a freebie for the Republicans. They can hold it up as another example of the Democrats' evil socialist plan to redistribute wealth. Get a grip -- these guys aren't serious about ANYTHING except paying back their corporate masters and fatcat donors with tax cuts and deregulation.

Posted by: ameshall on November 10, 2010 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

You CANNOT kill a jobs program dead enough! The idea of wasting money on the middle class and the working/non-working poor is repulsive.

If God wanted them to have jobs, they would have jobs. If God wanted them to have health insurance, they would have health insurance.

The only good usage of federal money is for defense spending, preferably for more advanced weapons systems to provide jobs in the defense industry. It does not matter whether the weapons systems are needed, wanted, or work. The only job creation the federal government should be putting money into is thru defense industries!

God bless OUR supreme court for their Citizens United Not Timid vs FEC ruling!

We own this country!!!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on November 10, 2010 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

So, they want to do something to something which is already dead. Those who do such things are something, usually, starting with the letter N, are they not?

Posted by: berttheclock on November 10, 2010 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the buffoonishly incompetent people the Bush administration put in to run the post-invasion Iraqi government? Well, the Republican Party is doing the same thing to the US government.

Posted by: idlemind on November 10, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

it's really very simple. any program that benefits anyone except for the very rich needs to be cut. got it?

Posted by: just bill on November 10, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

gcsitnek: Sigh, being sarcastic. Figured the "blah blah blah" might be a clue.
Posted by: bleh

gcsitnek's sarcasm-o-meter must be broken.

Posted by: BetweenTheLines on November 10, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

We had a majority in Congress and the Executive branches. We just had the wrong people managing the program, in particular Harry Reid. We are still all of us progressives; our party is just "not so much". Now we'll all pay for the bad management decisions and mourn the fact that progressives got barely significant, crappy booby prizes because Democrats are "nice guys" who compromise. Guantanamo closed? Restored Habeas Corpus? "Nope" instead of any "Hope".. These promises have yet to be fulfilled but again these issues are only the prescience of liberty... ....

Posted by: Trollop on November 10, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

And this week, because they don't believe in doing their homework, Republicans tried to kill it again, having forgotten that it's already dead.

But don't you see, if they kill it again, they'll save $50 billion? And next year will be even better. They can kill it three times. It's what everyone is looking for, totally painless deficit reduction.

Well, painless except for the unemployed people who would have been helped, and the economy.

Posted by: tamiasmin on November 10, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

delNorte, if there IS a double-dip recession, President Obama isn't the only person who will be worrying about his re-election...

Posted by: Doug on November 10, 2010 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

As this article points out, this fund was hugely successful and popular with Republican governors across the country. It's their Republican brethren in Congress who are so ideological that they rejected it. Can someone say "out of touch"?

Posted by: Mister Goat on November 10, 2010 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK
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