The $24 Billion Tantrum.

Following the Teapublican-caused government shutdown and threatened US default, it’s fair to look at what this pointless exercise cost us. Not including the human costs, economists at Standard & Poors estimate the cost of the government shutdown at $24 billion.

That’s larger than the entire annual budget for NASA ($17.8 billion) or the Department of the Interior ($13.5 billion). Put another way, it’s larger than the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency ($8.9 billion), the National Science Foundation ($7.5 billion), the Small Business Administration ($1.4 billion), the Corporation for National and Community Service ($1.1 billion) and the Disaster Relief Fund ($2 billion) combined.

It’s nearly double the annual revenue collected through the Estate and Gift Tax ($13 billion). It’s nearly half of the entire budget for Homeland Security. And, in more human terms, it would feed 1.6 million American families of four for an entire year!

Now imagine what would happen if Democrats proposed spending $24 billion to help the working poor or to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Teapublicans would cry, scream and hold their breath. They would fill the airwaves and the newspapers with paranoia. They would say that Democrats were mortgaging our children’s future. Yet they were willing to spend $24 billion on nothing…absolutely nothing.

Worse yet, 144 Teapublican Congressional Representatives and 18 Senators voted no on the bill to reopen the government and to prevent default! That’s 162 Teapublican votes to pour even more money down a rat hole. 162 votes to send the US government into default…risking a worldwide economic calamity!

And what might that have accomplished? Most economists feared that a failure to increase the debt ceiling would not only downgrade the rating of US bonds, it would create a collapse worse than the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009…maybe worse than the Great Depression. To put that into perspective, in a research paper for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, economists David Luttrell, Tyler Atkinson and Harvey Rosenblum calculated that the total cost of the Great Recession to the U.S. was on the order of $6 trillion to $14 trillion. The larger figure is roughly one full year of U.S. economic output and nearly equal to the entire federal debt!

Do you still think the Republican Party is the champion of fiscal responsibility?

Another Debt Ceiling Debacle?

Teapublicans are always fond of relating government budgets to your household budget. It’s a lousy analogy. But let’s use it for the purposes of the debt ceiling debate.

Imagine if your family, concerned about its spending and debt, had a meeting and decided that you no longer wanted to pay any debts above…let’s say, $10,000.  And let’s say that your family couldn’t agree on spending cuts. For example, the father just doesn’t want to stop collecting expensive guns and driving luxury cars, the mother doesn’t want to give up health insurance and the 401K, and the kids don’t want to give up school and food.  So your family agrees to stop paying the mortgage, the utilities and the credit card companies.

What do you think would happen?

The mortgage company would foreclose on your home, the utilities would cut off electricity, water and gas, and the credit card companies would cut off any new purchases in addition to adding large penalties and interest to your outstanding balance.  Moreover, your family would be unable to borrow money from anyone else. And, if someone else was willing to risk loaning your family money, it would be at exhorbitant interest rates.

Does that sound like something you want to intentionally do to your family? No? Then why would you want to do that to your country?

What we have is a Republican Party that doesn’t want to give up the world’s most lavish military budget or tax cuts and welfare for our largest corporations. The Democratic Party doesn’t want to give up Social Security, Medicare, and access to health care and food stamps for the working poor. And the Tea Party parasites don’t want to spend anything because they don’t like the government anyway.

During the 2012 presidential election, we had a national debate about the direction of our nation and its budget. On these issues, the voters overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party.  The results of that election should direct the conversation about government spending. Most important, there should be a conversation with all parties sitting down together and having an adult conversation about our nation’s future.

Unfortunately, the Tea Party parasites don’t want to do that, and the gutless Republican leaders are kowtowing to them.