Are there any adults in charge of the House? Watching this week’s frenzied slash-and-burn budget contest, we had to conclude the answer to that is no.
Some members want to go still further. On Tuesday, the House began debating the list of proposed cuts, and more than 500 amendments were filed, mostly from Republicans trying to cut still more out of — or end — programs they dislike. One would stop paying dues to the United Nations. Others would cut all financing for the health care reform law, or Planned Parenthood, or any foreign aid to a country that regularly disagrees with the United States at the United Nations.
If the Republicans got their way, it would wreak havoc on Americans’ lives and national security. This blood sport also has nothing to do with the programs that are driving up the long-term deficit: Medicare, Medicaid and, to a lesser extent, Social Security.
The House freshmen seemed even less concerned about the effect of their budget slashing. “A lot of us freshmen don’t have a whole lot of knowledge about how Washington, D.C., is operated,” Representative Kristi Noem, a Republican of South Dakota, told the Conservative Political Action Conference last week. “And, frankly, we don’t really care.”
In all of their posturing, Republican lawmakers have studiously avoided making clear to voters what vital government services would be slashed or disappear if they got their way — like investment in cancer research or a sharp reduction in federal meat inspections, or the number of police on the street, or agents that keep the borders secure, or the number of teachers in your kids’ schools. Those cuts will never get past the Senate, and, on Tuesday, Mr. Obama said he would veto such job-killing cuts if they arrive at his desk.
That puts the House leadership on notice. Will they follow the mob and allow the government to shut down if the cuts are not enacted? Or will they take back control of the House and steer it toward reality?
(click here to continue reading Out of Control in the House – NYTimes.com.)