Wednesday, January 07, 2015

By the Numbers: GOP-Style

There was hope that the GOP might try to temper their right-wing agenda a little, to try to strike a balance and maybe get some things done in the coming two years. But early signs appear to indicate the same old supporting-the-one-percent agenda we have gotten so used to. The latest tactic? The GOP is changing the calculation of the economic impact of bills. That sounds rather arcane and unimportant, but could be far from it. What it will actually allow the party to do is continue their tendency of tax cuts and deficit INCREASES that has been the signature of their economic policy going all the way back to Reagan.

How will this occur, you might ask? Well it is the simple power of manipulating data to serve your interests. Now we measure the economic costs of a bill based on how much it will cost. But in the future they will use dynamic scoring, which takes into account the predicted effects on future economic growth. In essence, the party can push through even more tax breaks for the rich while arguing that those tax breaks will foster economic growth that reduces the overall cost of the bill. In other words, while talking about government thrift, balancing the books and reducing deficits, the GOP will use an accounting trick to do quite the opposite, without working to address any of the concerns of average Americans. In fact, when the calculations turn out to be fraudulent, as is possible, it will mean higher deficits and further calls for reductions in social services and entitlement spending, just as the population gets even older. 

Along with this change, the GOP is also going immediately after one of their favorite targets, Social Security, hoping that seniors will have forgotten this affront before they go to the polls again in two years. Given the ahistorical short term memory of Americans, it might be a good bet in the end politically. At the level of the quality of life of the average American, however, it is really bad news. And that Keystone Pipeline project that will further damage the environment – they’ll be pushing that through as well. There’s nothing quite like a functioning government, is there?

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