GOP's Latest Funding Cuts Package Riddled With Same Old Ideological Riders

September 30, 2011 12:07 pm ET — Alan Pyke

When Republicans insist on massive, short-sighted and economically devastating spending cuts, they justify it by claiming that cutting spending is a necessary precursor to economic growth. It doesn't seem to matter that there's little to no evidence for that model of economic recovery (and much evidence from today's European economies that austerity only makes things worse). Republicans just say it over and over again, on Twitter and cable news and in the op-ed pages.

So it's nice, in a sense, when a committee chairman wraps a funding bill in such a ridiculous package of policy riders that it's impossible to defend in the context of jobs and the economy. That appears to be where we're headed with Labor/HHS funding for next year:

House Appropriators on Thursday released a draft spending bill that ends funding for NPR and President Obama's signature "Race to the Top" education program, in addition to defunding Obama's healthcare reform and Planned Parenthood. 

The bill also contains a number of pro-business, anti-union policy riders, including one that limits labor agreements with unions on federal projects and one that prohibits federal workers from union activities while on the clock at work. 

The National Labor Relations Board is prohibited from implementing a host of regulation meant to ease union elections. [...]

The Department of Labor gets a $2.6 billion cut from 2011 levels; the biggest chunk comes out of the Employment Training Administration. In contrast, a program for unemployed veterans - an issue Obama has championed - gets a $15.4 million increase next year, $10 million more than Obama sought for it.

We've been through this foolishness already this year, some of them more than once. No, Planned Parenthood isn't all about abortions; no, cutting NPR won't save jobs or money; no, it doesn't make sense to take the budget axe to education funding given global economic competition; no, the GOP's budget ideas don't balance.

Lest anyone forget, or be bamboozled by GOP leaders paying lip service paid to the notion of working in good faith with Democrats, this draft funding bill is a reminder. Republicans are more interested in throwing out political red meat to the ideological purists who've commandeered the party than executing government basics in a responsible, realistic fashion. If and when that leads to gridlock, Republicans claim that's good for the country too.

As one GOP senator recently put it, "The new definition of success around here is just keeping the lights on."

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