GRAPHIC: A Timeline Of GOP Economic Sabotage

October 25, 2011 10:51 am ET

After leading his caucus in a record-breaking number of filibusters during 2009 and 2010, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared in November 2010 that "our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term." Below is an infographic demonstrating some of the major episodes of Republican economic sabotage in the year since McConnell announced that top priority. These moments are the backdrop to our documentary, Sabotage: The Story Behind the Republican Party's Top Political Priority, in which economists Jared Bernstein (CBPP), Heather McGee (Demos), and John Irons (EPI) explain how Republicans have reversed their past support for various common-sense policies during this recovery to serve their political goals.

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November 2, 2010: GOP Wins Control Of U.S. House In Midterm Elections. From the Associated Press: "Resurgent Republicans won control of the House early Wednesday in midterm elections shadowed by recession, promising a conservative majority certain to challenge President Barack Obama at every turn." [Associated Press, 11/2/10]

November 4, 2010: Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell Says Top Republican Priority Is "To Deny President Obama A Second Term." In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, Sen. McConnell said: "Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term." [McConnell Remarks, 11/4/10, via YouTube]

December 6, 2010: President Obama Agrees To Compromise With GOP, Extend All Bush Tax Cuts For Two Years. From NPR: "President Barack Obama lost a game of chicken over tax cut extensions, and had to compromise when Republicans called his bluff. Obama and the Democrats wanted to extend tax cuts only for middle income earners, while the GOP in Congress were willing to let the cuts expire at the end of the year if those for the wealthy did. Monday night, Obama announced agreement with Republicans to extend tax cuts for all Americans, renew jobless benefits and grant a one-year reduction in Social Security taxes for millions. [...] Obama said there were elements of the deal he personally opposed, including an extension of expiring income tax cuts at upper income levels and a more generous deal on estates. But he said he decided that an agreement with Republicans was more important that a stalemate that would have resulted in higher income taxes at all income levels on Jan. 1. 'Make no mistake, allowing taxes to go up on all Americans would have raised taxes by $3,000 for a typical American family and that could cost our economy well over a million jobs,' he said at the White House." [NPR, 12/6/11]

January 5, 2011: GOP House Majority Sworn In. From the Washington Post: "Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), taking the gavel Wednesday as the new speaker of the House, promised to work for fiscal responsibility while offering "openness" to the chamber's Democratic minority. [...] As the GOP formally took control of the House on the opening day of the 112th Congress, Boehner, 61, said in his maiden speech as speaker: 'Our spending has caught up with us, and our debt will soon eclipse the size of our entire economy. Hard work and tough decisions will be required.' The election of Boehner to succeed Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), the first woman speaker, was a formality following his designation by Republicans in November as their nominee for the post. The GOP captured the majority in the House in the midterm elections and reduced the Democratic majority in the Senate, giving President Obama a divided Congress to work with as he enters the third year of his term." [Washington Post, 1/5/11]

January 24, 2011: GOP Majority Leader Cantor's Office Claims Credit For Strong Jobs Numbers With "THERE ARE THE JOBS" Email. As reported by Politico: "It took less than three weeks for the new Republican Congressional leadership to claim credit for an apparent economic upturn. An aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Brian Patrick, emailed reporters this morning: 'THERE ARE THE JOBS: Republicans Prevent Massive Tax Increase, Economy Begins to Improve' [...] Patrick emails, though, that he doesn't think it's too early to take credit: 'Republicans have consistently called for providing certainty for the business community and worked to ensure no American saw a tax increase.'" [Politico, 1/24/11]

  • January 24, 2011: Rep. Mike Pence Says, "Some Would Have Us Focus Our Energy On Jobs," In Call For Anti-Abortion Legislation. At the 2011 March for Life, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said: "These are trying times in the life of this nation. Our economy is struggling and our national government is awash in a sea of debt. Amidst these struggles, some would have us focus our energy on jobs and spending. But as you attest today by your presence, you know we must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged. Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a house divided, America's darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles." [Pence Remarks, 1/24/11, via YouTube]

February 15, 2011: Speaker John Boehner Exaggerates Federal Employment And Says That "If Some Of Those Jobs Are Lost" Due To GOP Cuts, "So Be It." As reported by Talking Points Memo: "At a press conference in the lobby of RNC headquarters Tuesday morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) shrugged this off as collateral damage. 'In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs,' Boehner said. 'If some of those jobs are lost so be it. We're broke.' [...] Boehner didn't cite a source for the claim that Obama had added 200,000 employees to the federal payroll. [...] Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post reported last September that there were only 20,000 more federal employees under Obama in 2010 than under George W. Bush in 2002 -- and that, on a per capita basis (federal employees per 1,000 Americans), it's at the lowest level at least since 1962." [Talking Points Memo, 2/15/11]

February 19, 2011: GOP Majority Passes Spending Cuts Bill Predicted To Cause A Million Job Losses. The House passed H.R. 1 by a 235-189 vote on February 19, 2011. From Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank: "I checked with budget expert Scott Lilly of the Center for American Progress, and, using the usual multipliers, he calculated that the cuts - a net of $59 billion in the last half of fiscal 2011 - would lead to the loss of 650,000 government jobs, and the indirect loss of 325,000 more jobs as fewer government workers travel and buy things. That's nearly 1 million jobs - possibly enough to tip the economy back into recession." [H.R. 1, Vote #147, 2/19/11; Washington Post2/16/11]

April 2011: House GOP Threatens To Shut Down The Government Over Funding For Planned Parenthood. As reported by the Huffington Post: "The United States government is on the verge of shutting down over a dispute about subsidized pap smears, according to sources familiar with the budget negotiations. The White House and Senate Democrats have publicly capitulated to ever-increasing Republican demands for spending cuts, but negotiations over the budget for the remainder of the fiscal year have shifted their focus from money to so-called riders -- provisions that restrict the federal government from spending money on certain projects or entities. [...] At a late-night White House meeting between the president and key congressional leaders, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made clear that his conference would not approve funding for the government if any money were allowed to flow to Planned Parenthood through legislation known as Title X. 'This comes down to women's health issues related to Title X,' a person in the meeting told HuffPost." [Huffington Post, 4/7/11]

April 14, 2011: House Avoids Government Shutdown With Bill That Cuts $38 Billion In Spending. From the New York Times: "Congress voted Thursday to keep the government financed through September, putting an end to a raucous first skirmish in this year's showdown between Democrats and Republicans over federal spending while presaging bigger ones to come. Scores of House Republicans deserted their leadership to vote against the bill, which cut $38 billion in spending, saying it did not go far enough." [New York Times, 4/14/11]

April 15, 2011: House GOP Passes 2012 Budget Predicted To Cause As Many As 3 Million Job Losses Over Five Years. The House passed H.Con.Res. 34 by a 235-193 vote on April 15, 2011. From the Economic Policy Institute's analysis of that budget:

Over the next five years (during which time CBO projects that the economy will still be below potential), Chairman Ryan's Medicaid proposal would cut the program by $207 billion, which includes both eliminating the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and even deeper cuts to the Medicaid program.  Using a standard macroeconomic model that is consistent with private- and public-sector forecasters, we find that a $207 billion cut would result in a loss of 2.1 million jobs over the next five years, or 2.9 million full-time equivalent jobs. These figures are in job-years, which refer to a job held for a single year, meaning that five jobs lost in a single year is the equivalent to one job lost over five years.

Furthermore, the job loss would overwhelmingly be in the private economy.  Medicaid has very low overhead, as about 96% of the program's funds go toward benefits which are spent in the private sector.  Assuming the 96% ratio is relatively constant across states (or at least not systematically biased in one direction), Medicaid cuts of this magnitude would result in the loss of just under 2 million private-sector jobs, or 2.8 million full-time equivalent jobs. [H.Con.Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11; EPI.org, 4/6/11, emphasis added]

May 17, 2011: Rep. Paul Ryan Says That Government Default Of "A Day Or Two Or Three Or Four" To Extract Significant Spending Cuts Would Be Acceptable. From CNBC.com: "Holders of US government debt would be willing to miss payments 'for a day or two or three or four' if it put the US in a stronger position to pay them later on, Rep. Paul Ryan told CNBC Tuesday. 'That's what I'm hearing from most people,' said the Wisconsin Republican, chairman of the House Budget Committee. 'What is more important is that you're putting the government in a materially better position to be able to pay their bonds later on.'" [CNBC.com, 5/17/11]

Late June: Republicans Walk Out Of Negotiations On Raising The Debt Ceiling After Democrats Request One Dollar In Tax Increases For Every Five Dollars Of Spending Cuts. From the Wall Street Journal: "A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Vice President Joseph Biden had agreed on cuts that total about $1 trillion over 10 years, participants say. They were shooting for about $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction, but when Democrats insisted about $400 billion in tax increases be considered, the Republicans walked out." [Wall Street Journal, 6/28/11, emphasis added]

August 2011: Standard & Poor's Downgrades U.S. Credit Rating For The First Time In History, Citing Republican Actions And Rhetoric About Defaulting On The Debt. From Talking Points Memo:

Standard & Poors has a specific justification for downgrading the U.S. bond rating, and it's deadly for Republicans. It wasn't just that Congress showed itself to be reckless and dysfunctional, or that the GOP shows no sign of ever ending their anti-tax jihad. It's that for a period of weeks, some lawmakers (read: Republicans) were quite literally shrugging off the risks of blowing past the August 2 deadline, running out of borrowing authority, and missing payment obligations.

"[P]eople in the political arena were even talking about a potential default," said Joydeep Mukherji, senior director at S&P. "That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable," he added. "This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns." [...]

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) warned against default, but for a time was willing to go past August 2.

"The markets are not fooled by some date imposed to say that that is the trigger for the collapse," he said at a Virginia jobs forum in May. "I think the markets are looking to see that there is real reform." [...]

When Speaker John Boehner acknowledged that missing the August 2 deadline would put the country in "an awful lot of jeopardy, Rep. Louie Gohmert reacted by saying, "[t]he problem with the Speaker, and him saying that, is he believes the President. And I would encourage the Speaker not to believe the President anymore when the President says things like that." [...]

This extended beyond the halls of Congress, too. Taking their cues from the right, GOP Presidential candidates stood opposed to raising the debt limit. In response to a question from TPM, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty said he wasn't sure a temporary U.S. default would have calamitous consequences. "Maybe not. We don't know," he said.

Nebraska GOP Senate candidate Jon Bruning, who, if he wins, will be faced with a debt limit vote in early 2013 said, "[Default] may be something that has to happen to make the fundamental changes that are necessary in the American governmental system. We have to shrink it. And, if the Democratic Party that controls the White House and the Senate doesn't understand it, default may be necessary." [Talking Points Memo, 8/12/11]

September 8, 2011: President Obama Proposes Jobs Bill With Over $250 Billion In Tax Relief. From the Huffington Post: "Hoping to stem the tide of poor economic news and boost his falling poll numbers, President Barack Obama proposed a $447 billion jobs plan to Congress on Thursday evening. Titled the American Jobs Act, the proposal includes more than $250 billion in tax incentives for small businesses and employers, according to administration estimates. The rest of the money would be devoted to infrastructure spending, state aid, unemployment insurance, and neighborhood rehabilitation. The president will pay for the proposal by asking the congressional super committee tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction to offset the cost of the package in their proposal." [Huffington Post, 9/8/11]

October 3, 2011: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Says President Obama's Jobs Bill Is 'Dead' In The House. From The Hill: "House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Monday said President Obama's jobs package is dead, rejecting the president's demand hours earlier that Congress move his legislation by the end of the month. Cantor said the House would not bring up the president's American Jobs Act for a vote as a whole, but by the end of the month would move forward with elements supported by GOP leaders, including three pending trade agreements and a reduction in the withholding tax for businesses. [...] Asked directly if the bill was dead as a comprehensive package, Cantor replied, 'Yes.'" [The Hill, 10/3/11]

October 11, 2011: Senate Republicans Filibuster President Obama's Jobs Bill. From CBS News: "Senate Republicans blocked President Obama's $447 billion jobs package on Tuesday, putting the brakes on a bill Mr. Obama has been vigorously promoting over the past month. By around 7 p.m., the vote tally was 50 to 48, giving Republicans more than the 40 votes needed to filibuster the bill." [S. 1660, Vote #160, 10/11/11; CBS News, 10/11/11]

Watch our documentary, Sabotage: The Story Behind The Republican Party's "Top Political Priority" HERE.

-- Graphic by Drew Gardner

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