The Republican Algorithm

I think Paul Krugman is uncharacteristically wrong in his analysis of why Republicans are proposing the budget cuts they are:

The answer, once you think about it, is obvious: sacrifice the future. Focus the cuts on programs whose benefits aren’t immediate; basically, eat America’s seed corn. There will be a huge price to pay, eventually — but for now, you can keep the base happy.

If you didn’t understand that logic, you might be puzzled by many items in the House G.O.P. proposal. Why cut a billion dollars from a highly successful program that provides supplemental nutrition to pregnant mothers, infants, and young children? Why cut $648 million from nuclear nonproliferation activities? (One terrorist nuke, assembled from stray ex-Soviet fissile material, can ruin your whole day.) Why cut $578 million from the I.R.S. enforcement budget? (Letting tax cheats run wild doesn’t exactly serve the cause of deficit reduction.)

I don’t think you need to make up anything new and complicated to explain this. They want to cut the nutrition program because it’s welfare for poor people. They want to cut the nonproliferation budget because it represents squishy liberal idealism. And they want to cut the IRS budget because rich people don’t like being audited. Other parts of the GOP proposal include cuts to rail projects, the EPA, NOAA, Bill Clinton’s program to put more cops on the street, the NSF, energy efficiency programs, the SEC, green building programs, clean water funding, employment training, various health programs, Head Start, community service, public broadcasting, foreign aid, rental assistance and other housing programs, FEMA, and both CDC and NHS. I’ll confess that I don’t quite get the last two: do Republicans think that capturing the House means we’ll have fewer natural disasters and less disease? But the rest of this stuff is really straightforward: they’re all programs that benefit poor people, hurt rich people, or just generally stink a little too much of liberalism.

But then, what do you expect? They’re Republicans. What else would you expect them to cut?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.