The House is in crisis.
Favoring the wealthiest 0.2 percent, House Republicans would eliminate estate taxes, increasing deficits for a decade by $320 billion. Do families of megarich magnates, who own more than the bottom 90 percent, need charitable relief?
As for spending, Republicans’ 2015 House budget chops food stamps by $125 billion; cancels Pell Grants for many students; and block-grants Medicaid, cutting health care for the destitute.
Mainstream Republicans also oppose health coverage for 16 million new insureds; obstruct realistic laws reducing the annual carnage of 32,000 gun deaths; and reject crucial infrastructure repairs and jobs.
House Republicans neglect justice. They eagerly demolish both taxes and spending to benefit the uberwealthy—at everyone else’s expense.
The Tea Party believes these policies are not sufficiently strict. Jim Jordan of Ohio spearheaded the sequester’s automatic dire cutbacks—too large to execute—but enacted due to right-wing rigidity.
With a dysfunctional process, America’s AAA credit rating was downgraded, triggering historically high debt-servicing costs. Louisiana’s John Fleming contended, “If we miss the deadline it’s no big crisis. We can use it politically.”
Jordan organized some 40 iron-fisted Tea Party members into the “Freedom Caucus.” Their Dickensian proposals make establishment Republicans appear liberal.
Consider Louie Gohmert of Texas. He introduced a farm bill amendment to cut off food stamps for 47.6 million needing food—including 16 million children. Afflicting America’s most vulnerable, this survival-of-the-fittest mentality would deliver many diseases and death sentences.
Kansan Tim Huelskamp and numerous colleagues promote privatizing Medicare. This would boost premiums and co-pays considerably, eliminating coverage for millions.
Libertarian David Brat of Virginia advocates demolishing Social Security and Medicare, cutting benefits by two-thirds. He also justifies decimating education funds: “Socrates trained in Plato on a rock. How much did that cost?”
Instead of balancing national debt interest with the deficit—nearly achieved—Arizonan Matt Salmon joins many Tea Partyers who claim we must balance the budget. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says this would “kill the economy.” This requires ripping apart America’s safety net, discarding all discretionary programs, and significantly reducing Social Security and Medicare. This crushing austerity also slams the brakes on the economy, substantially increasing unemployment.
Colorado’s Ken Buck wants to privatize the VA. After criticism, he denied favoring “fully privatizing” veterans’ health care. As to Medicare, Medicaid and ‘Obamacare,’ he states, “We need to let the market work, make people responsible for their own insurance…” Such free-market fundamentalism is despicable, denying health insurance to about 100 million seniors and indigents.
Some howled when Florida Democrat Alan Grayson depicted the Republican health plan for the uninsured who get sick: “Die quickly.” Actually, about 19,000 lives are saved annually by Obamacare, yet the Tea Party pushed for more than 50 votes to expunge this essential health care. They offer no bills to replace it.
Tea Party austerity neglects justice.
In a 2013 Mother Jones exposé, “Inside the Republican Suicide Machine,” author Tim Dickinson concludes, “[Tea Party] insurgents are championed by wealthy ideologues who simply seek to tear down government.”
Mainstream Republicans inflict austerity measures, but Tea Party austerity is even worse: Slashing taxes for the wealthy is combined with plundering programs affecting disabled, jobless, working-class and middle-class Americans. This poisonous plot would delight Ebenezer Scrooge.
So why don’t voters choose Democrats? In 2012, they did—by 1.4 million votes. The outcome: Republicans, 234 seats; Democrats, 201. The system is rigged. With gerrymandered districts, voters don’t choose politicians; politicians choose voters. Analyst Sam Wang calculated that to control the House, Democrats needed to win by seven, not 1.2, percentage points.
Democracy is defeated. Austerity adored. Justice neglected—as the Tea Party worships the wealthy.
The House crisis is deeply rooted. It may require several election cycles but, with passionate resistance, perhaps our nation will yet overcome Tea Party tyranny.
Rev. Harry Rix is a retired pastor and mental health counselor living in Providence, RI. He has 50 articles on spirituality and ethics, stunning photos, and 1200 inspiring quotations available at www.quoflections.org.