It’s that bad

IT’S THAT BAD…. There’s a fair amount of discussion on the House Republican plan to cut spending for the remainder of the fiscal year, but folks may not fully appreciate the scope of how ridiculous their proposal is. Some may have heard that GOP officials are using some smoke and mirrors to exaggerate the size of their spending cuts, which may lead to some relief — if the cuts aren’t as bad, maybe the damage won’t be as great.

Let’s dismiss that kind of optimism right now, shall we?

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published a lengthy, wonky analysis yesterday of the Republicans’ proposed cuts — it really is worth reading — and today offers a summary of some of the top-line provisions. Among other things, the proposal would:

* Cut Head Start, which provides at-risk children up to age 5 with education, health, nutrition, and other services, by an amount equivalent to the cost of serving 157,000 children.

* Cut Pell Grants, which help students afford college, by nearly 25 percent, affecting all 9 million students who receive them.

* Cut, by more than half, Workforce Investment Act funding to provide job training, job search, and other employment assistance for low-income adults and workers whose jobs have been eliminated.

* Cut, by more than half, two funds that help communities pay for sewage and wastewater treatment and for upgrading facilities that ensure safe drinking water.

* Cut funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 22 percent, for the Food and Drug Administration by 10 percent, and for the Food Safety Inspection Service by 9 percent.

All of this, of course, comes against an important backdrop — in December, the same GOP leaders demanding these cuts were also demanding massive tax breaks they didn’t even try to pay for. They’re arguing now that the cuts are absolutely unavoidable because of the deficit, which happens to be the deficit they created and made much worse a couple of months ago.

And really, that’s just some of the higher-profile problems with the plan. It doesn’t even get to devastating cuts to food safety, energy efficiency programs, environmental protections, NASA, scientific research, FEMA, and Centers for Disease Control. The associated job losses, as we learned this week, could total 1 million.

I can keep going with this, but there were two other specific areas that are worth paying particular attention to. Jon Chait noted yesterday the effects of proposed cuts to community health centers — which Republicans used to like — that would leave “around 3 million people without a regular source of affordable health care.”

And then there are the cuts to, of all things, nuclear security and counter-proliferation programs, which Senate Republicans fought just last year to increase, and which many experts believe would do serious harm to U.S. national security.

The Republican proposal, in other words, is the sort of budget a caucus might put together if it was really angry with Americans, as if we’d done something to offend them.

And best of all, as far as GOP leaders are concerned, unless Democrats go along all with this, they’ll shut down the government.

I can only wonder how many midterm voters appreciated the fact that this mess is what the electorate chose to create.