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Disabling the Government

by ROBERT HUNZIKER

The “GOP right wing is serious about disabling government.” This is the chilling byline from The Hill’s Congress Blog, July 19, 2012 by Former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) referencing:  H.R. 4078- Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act.

H.R. 4078 will be considered by the House next week, and according to former Rep. Boehlert, “If one wants to fully appreciate the stranglehold the right wing has on the Republican Congressional agenda, and its attendant dangers, one need look no further than the bill the House plans to consider… which would shut down the entire regulatory system.”  The message behind this Republican-sponsored bill to the Democrats is: Put this in your pipe and smoke it you wild-eyed, chicken-livered, pantywaisted, pinko, lefty liberals. And, just to reflect, Ann Coulter is the one who famously said, “ The left is out to destroy the country.”

H. R. 4078 places a moratorium on the issuance of all new major governmental regulations, until unemployment averages 6%, or less, for an entire quarter. This bill is so cleverly worded that it essentially shuts down the future of government, including the prospect that, if a newly elected President Romney wants to impose new limitations on how government funds are expended, so sorry.  He’ll be blocked. Therefore, it is clear the right-wingers do not even trust their own kind, and what an irony considering it is reasonably probable the billionaire right-wingers will purchase the presidency but will not know what to do with it!

The media has largely ignored H.R. 4078 because the whole affaire surrounding the bill seems so far-fetched and ignorant they figure there is no way that Congress could be stupid enough to literally tie the hands of the government. For example, what if a brilliant bill is initiated to help prevent another financial meltdown? Nope! No can do because the H.R. 4078 prohibits issuance of new standards and safeguards and any action that might lead to the issuance of new standards and safeguards.

This bunch of Republicans now running our Congress constitute a throw back to the acumen of an earlier era when the nation’s top ranking leadership was characterized by then-Vice President Dan Quayle, and one of his famous statements: “I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.”  This festering Quaylitis virus, similar to the Black Plague of old, re-emerges every so often, and it bewilders every politician it touches. The recent outbreak appears to have already infected a large component of the Republicans on the Hill.

In combination with Tea Partiers and the other heavy-duty right-wing extremists, the virus is an unbelievably toxic cocktail, something the country has never witnessed before. It is not a stretch of one’s imagination to say the country is now in the hands of a revitalized Know-Nothing Party (1850s), a bunch of xenophobes who form secretive groups to influence national policy by hiding within the dark enclaves of Citizens United, spewing out falsehoods so flamboyantly outrageous as to confuse a credulous public that falls head over heels for the faux credibility of TV’s electronic signal warfare, capturing the minds and the voters of the country by instilling fear of the present and despair for the future. This is the Know-Nothing way!

These Know-Nothings amazingly link ‘employment’ and ‘regulations’ as if a freeze on regulations will lift employment; otherwise, why set criteria of 6% unemployment as the hallmark for success of the bill? This is a patently false claim that has been roundly debunked by: the Economic Policy Institute, American Sustainable Business Council, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and, American Association of University Professors. Furthermore, according to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, “Widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision proved devastating to the stability of the nation’s financial markets,” leading to the Great Financial Meltdown of 2007-08. H.R. 4078 throws out the window any possibility of window dressing to address the systemic cancerous outgrowth of a failed regulatory environment that nearly shattered the country.

And, unbeknownst to the Know Nothings, their bill will step on the toes of their colleagues because the proposed act will hit the NRA and Dick Cheney’s hunting escapades right between the eyes. Every year the Fish and Wildlife Service analyzes data to determine appropriate bird hunting season for each state. The Migratory Bird Hunting study tells hunters which birds they can hunt, when seasons begin and end, where hunting is permitted, kill limits, etc. The Regulatory Freeze Act, H.R. 4078 will block this annual regulatory action. Where, when, and what will they hunt? This could lead to nationwide pandemonium with orange-suited hunters blasting away at anything, and everything, that flies!

And, even more alarming yet, the bill endangers the health of the nation at large because, every five years, Congress reauthorizes the Prescription Drug and User Fee Act, establishing the framework for FDA approval of new medicines and new medical devices. Reauthorization of this act is scheduled for 2012.

The bill sponsor is Tim Griffin (R-AR), and there are 20 Republican co-sponsors with no Democrats on board. Griffin is the one who infamously resigned from his position with George W. Bush’s re-election campaign after his Swift Boat (2004) involvement became public. Previously Griffin was a legal advisor for the Bush-Cheney 2000 Florida Recount Team, and appearing in a BBC documentary, “Digging the Dirt,” he stated, “We think of ourselves as the creators of the ammunition in a war. We make the bullets.” During Griffin’s 2010 campaign for the House, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named him as one of the “Crooked Candidates of 2010.” He has served in the House since January 3, 2011.

Griffin believes new regulations and/or changes in regulations hurt the economy, and he opines a moratorium on regulations will increase employment… What?  However, it is worth noting his bill does have limited exemptions to respond to health or safety threats to the country and for national security.

Nevertheless, the Congressional Budge Office says the bill could have a big, and hard to predict, effect on revenue, spending and implementation of legislation. As currently written, the bill will prevent annual updates of Medicare service payment levels, and it will delay implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 2010, informally referred to as Obamacare, including provisions for creation of a new system of health insurance. Additionally, the bill appears to eradicate numerous pending energy-related bills like a New Refinery Standards act and a new EPA Fracking Rule as well as new energy standards for housing and industrial coolers.

You can bet your bottom dollar this bill is destined to become a very expensive affair, but whether it passes, or not, that is altogether another story for another time.

Robert Hunziker earned an MA in economic history at DePaul University. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.

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