Those of you who share my intense skepticism of the current Republican party's goals and plans for the federal budget are aware of my evaluation of such ideas as repealing the current (modest) health care reform law and replacing it with a hodge podge of purported "free market" based "competition-fostering" initiatives like cross-state sales of insurance (inspiring a race to the bottom for regulation of insurers) or tort reform (resulting in a dearth of real remedies for actual harm).
What about their plans for the rest of the federal government? I worry in particular about the renewed calls for "tax reform". Like "tort reform", I suspect that tax reform will be treated as a way to further corporatist goals of lowering corporate taxes even further without acknowledging or considering the expanding array of rights given to corporations by the activist Supreme Court, which rights are directly related to a deterioration of democratic voice for individuals. The Republican tendency to favor very low corporate tax rates and territorial tax systems is favorable to big business and furthers the corporatist agenda with which the Republican party is most closely associated.
The House leadership seems fairly clearly to have painted a target on federal employees and wants to cut federal spending by cutting payments to federal workers. Pay freezes and workload increases by shifting workload from workers that leave--all appear to be in their sights under the Republican Study Committee document outlining their "Spending Reduction Act of 2011". That's wacky in a period of recession--we need competent federal employees, it costs more to hire and train new than to retain old, and freezing pay for 5 years across-the board (without regard to increased workload becaus of the no-hire policy) abrogates the contractual relationships that the Republicans treat as sacrosanct in other circumstances (i.e., when it involves the rights of the wealthy/managers/big business--just remember the KPMG issue about providing the most sophisticated defense for partners involved in tax shelter planning and the outcry from the right about "rights" even though there was no contractual arrangement for KPMG to provide legal defense in all situations). Hypocrisy for sure.
The programs that this Republican study wants to target include many that are critical to the country--Amtrak of course is on their hit list, even though we have subsidized automobile transportation for decades and the Amtrak assistance is minimal. Public Broadcasting, the Humanities and Arts endowments, Legal Services, Medicaid funding, stimulus funding, technology innovation, high-speed rail grants to cities (essential for Detroit), Title X Family Planning--the Republicans want to cut everything, it appears, that might just help someone who is actually poor or even in the middle class or some program that isn't a subsidy for Big Oil, Big Pharm, or managers of private equity funds with a billion a year in "carried interest" treated as capital gains. Moreover, the Republicans want to sell "excess" federal properties. Do they want us to work like third world countries where sales of federal properties resulted in oligarchs with even more wealth (Carlos Slim comes to mind, with his monopoly over telecommunications)? No support for the UN panel on climate change, they say, so it appears the Republican Party will continue to be an ostrich with its head in the sand when it comes to making the changes we need to make to limit the harm from global climate changes related to human energy consumption.
The Republicans also want to cut $93 million a year that the US contributes to the funding of the OECD. That organization is one of the very important organizations that works to achieve enough harmony in tax rules and cooperation among government to ensure that our tax laws won't be undercut by other countries' willingness to serve as tax havens for US citizens actively engaged in tax evasion. OECD provides important information about REAL relative tax burdens--it is one of the organizations that has shown us that in spite of our statutory rate for corporate taxation, we actually are a tax haven compared to other countries--down there with Mexico and only a few others at the bottom of the OECD nations. A US pullout from OECD would be counter to all notions of accountability and responsibility--things that Republicans claim to stand for.
There may be a few of these proposed cuts that would be good ideas, but most strike me as short-sighted, mean-spirited, or plainly stupid. Not surprisingly, the study claims that Keynesian policies have been discredited and implies that its own free marketarianism is the way to go. Of course, the reverse is true. It's "free market" rules as practiced by Republican administrations that has been proven faulty--including the casino banking that led us into the Great Recession, which was a direct result of letting go the reins of regulation. Another dose of that deregulatory oligarch-favoring medicine is likely to kill the American middle class once and all.