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Guest opinion

Grijalva: Destroying economy to save it

It's up to Congress to decide how to fund government operations for the rest of fiscal year 2011, which started last Oct. 1 and ends this Oct. 1.

Republicans who control the House have proposed what's called a "continuing resolution" - not quite the same as a real budget - to keep the government running until we switch over to fiscal year 2012. The resolution includes drastic cuts to more programs than I can name, and it's important to understand what that means.

The numbers speak for themselves. Republicans have controlled the House for nearly two months and have brought forward literally no job creation bills. Instead, according to research from the Economic Policy Institute, this resolution will cost us a million jobs. If it becomes law, the General Services Administration building fund that pays for border ports of entry and other federal construction will lose almost $1.7 billion – that's no jobs and no more ports. What's more:

  • $51 million will be cut from the National Park Service – that's a loss of jobs.
  • $256 million will be cut from state and federal law enforcement.
  • $889 million will be cut from renewable energy programs – that's a huge loss of jobs for people creating solar panels and retrofitting homes for energy efficiency.

There are many more cuts, but before we get to them, we have to understand the context. Speaker of the House John Boehner said at a press conference on Tuesday that if Republican hack-and-slash budget tactics lead to thousands of federal workers losing their jobs, "so be it." He didn't try to hide his lack of concern about unemployment. His priority is dismantling the government, first and foremost.

Look it up: the House Republican leader thinks we can do with fewer air traffic controllers, fewer food inspectors and fewer Border Patrol agents.

That's not all. The resolution eliminates PBS and National Public Radio entirely. I believe those entities are a fundamental and very permanent reminder of what makes free speech and independent media so valuable. I can't help but wonder why Republicans are so eagerly cutting jobs and locking up company doors even as they talk about an economic recovery. Just as seriously, if they're really willing to end Sesame Street, they're no more committed to education than they are to job creation.

What are their priorities in this resolution? They support continued subsidies for oil and mining companies with record profits. They continue to sink money into Afghanistan while telling you and your family to tighten your belts another notch.

$1.3 million will be cut from community health centers - that means no jobs and increased costs in emergency rooms, where crowding will be worse than ever as

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Gov. Brewer refuses to support health assistance to children. The $1.6 billion cut from the Environmental Protection Agency will mean - you guessed it - a big job loss. $96 million for substance abuse and mental health services: loss of jobs.

We can't destroy our economy in order to save it, whatever Republicans want you to believe. We can't put all the burden on working families and send thousands of people packing because they have jobs Republicans ideologically oppose. A House vote on the resolution is expected by the end of the week. Tell Congress what you think.

U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva represents Arizona’s 7th Congressional District.

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1 comment on this story

Feb 19, 2011, 5:39 am
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With respect, and in fairness, Rep. Grijalva, it’s impossible to address this issue in so few words and without providing additional context. You and I are on the same page in re PBS and NPR, but do you really think that the proposed elimination of those national institutions will ever come to pass? No, it’s political posturing, and you must know that well.

You cite a handful of proposed budget cuts, but those proposed cuts cannot be evaluated unless they are seen in a broader context (to my regret and mild shame, I can’t be bothered to Google the “continuing resolution” to ascertain the details). For example, what cuts are proposed to the country’s bloated defense budget, if any? If none, that’s a travesty. If several billion dollars, well, that’s something else entirely.

Your opinion piece does a good job of sounding the alarm – letting citizens know that important matters are being decided by their representatives – but what we really need (in addition) is a transparent guide to the proposals, a guide that spells out what the proposed cuts will be and what areas are NOT slated for proportional cuts.

Right-thinking Americans (and legislators) understand that politics require compromise; in order to compromise we need to clearly understand our choices.

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