Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Showdown in DC

uesday, April 5, 2011
Tonight is the effective deadline for working out a budget deal in time to avert a government shutdown when the government runs out of money on Friday. Nothing in Washington gets done before the last minute, and a lot of it doesn’t even get done when the last minute comes and goes. Well today’s deadline is a drop-dead deadline, and so far the attitude of the Republicans has been “drop dead.” Part of the problem is that a government shutdown is a nightmare for most people, and a wet dream for a lunatic fringe of the Republican Party. And that lunatic fringe is pretty much running this circus. It’s hard to solve a problem when there are people involved in the problem solving who see the problem as the solution.

Hour One Guest: Rick Unger from Forbes.com on the looming government shutdown and the plot to privatize Medicare.

Hour Two Guest: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) on the tea-stained budget process.

This isn’t a budget negotiation—it’s more like a hostage negotiation. The number that Democrats are floating is $33 billion in cuts. In February, the Republicans were insisting on $32 billion in cuts. So what’s the problem? In a word, Republicans. $32 billion in cuts was plenty for them, until they heard from the Tea Party nut jobs. $32 billion is crazy, but not crazy enough. I think just the fact that $32 billion was theoretically doable was enough to make rightwing Republicans reject that number. Republicans can’t agree to any number that would actually work, because that would mean that government would actually have a chance to work.

If things look bad in the short run, they look a lot worse in the long run. House Republicans are proposing a budget plan that makes $6.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. And after 10 years? Well, after 10 years of this, there wouldn’t be anything left. This isn’t a plan to fund the government, it’s a plan to defund the government. Hell, it’s virtually a plan to euthanize the government. The budget plan is the brainchild of Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin… and it’s is the second worst thing to come out of Wisconsin in recent weeks. Ryan’s plan destroys Medicare in order to pay down the deficit. Well, that’s not strictly true. Medicare isn’t being destroyed in order to bring down the deficit. Destroying Medicare is the real goal here in its own right.

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