House approves brutal budget cuts

HOUSE APPROVES BRUTAL BUDGET CUTS…. It was only a matter of time.

The House early Saturday approved a huge package of spending cuts, slashing more than $60 billion from domestic programs, foreign aid, and even some military projects, as the new Republican majority made good on its pledge to turn the grassroots fervor of the November elections into legislative action to shrink the size and scope of government.

The vote, of 235 to 189, was a victory for the large, boisterous class of fiscally conservative Republican freshmen that is fiercely determined to change the ways of Washington and that forced party leaders to pursue far bigger cuts than originally planned. It set the stage for a standoff with Senate Democrats and the White House that each side has warned could lead to a shutdown of the federal government early next month.

Looking over the roll call, the drastic cuts received zero Democratic votes, and even Blue Dogs didn’t break ranks. Three Republicans — Walter Jones (N.C.), Reps. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), and John Campbell (Calif.) — voted with the Dems in opposition, but two of three opposed the measure because they said it wasn’t quite brutal enough. (Nine House members — seven Democrats and two Republicans — did not vote, but they obviously wouldn’t have affected the outcome.)

The gavel came down around 4:30 a.m., making this one of those rare Friday-night/Saturday-morning votes.

The package, which is intended to finance the federal government though the end of the fiscal year, now heads to the Senate, where it stands absolutely no chance whatsoever of passing. Indeed, House Republicans knew this before the vote, and didn’t care — this isn’t about governing; it’s about right-wing lawmakers pounding their chests in order to impress their reactionary base. House leaders could have worked with Senate leaders on a spending compromise, but Republicans chose not to bother.

As we talked about yesterday, it’s hard to overstate how brutal these cuts really are. Overnight, 235 House Republicans voted to slash education, job training, environmental protections, food safety, community health centers, nuclear security, energy efficiency programs, scientific research, FEMA, Planned Parenthood, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Social Security Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control, among other things.

The projected job losses from these cuts, we learned this week, could total 1 million American workers, all of whom would be forced into unemployment, on purpose, because Republicans think it’d be good for the economy.

As the House GOP sees it, we can’t afford these expenditures because of the deficit they helped create. We can, however, afford massive tax breaks for people who don’t need them, which cost a lot more, and which Republicans didn’t even try to pay for.

The GOP 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. (Maybe, if we apologize, they’ll stop trying to hurt so many people?)

Oddly enough, perhaps no one is happier with the vote than the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — this one measure will be exploited for hundreds of hours of campaign ads, questioning the misguided principles of vulnerable Republican incumbents who were misguided enough to vote for this monstrosity.