Alex Blaze

Republicans Propose a Partial Boycott of America

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 14, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: funding, health care reform, HIV/AIDS, pain caucus, south africa

Last Friday House Republicans released their plans for budget cuts, and today the National Minority AIDS Council counted the damage the proposals would do when it comes to HIV/AIDS:

The Committee's proposed cuts include, among others, $1.3 billion from Community Health Centers, $1.57 billion from the National Institutes of Health, $923 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $327 million from Family Planning and $280 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

don't-buy-south-african.jpgAt least they didn't go for the jugular and cut Ryan White CARE Act funds directly. But this comes on top of the cuts state budgets have been making when it comes to HIV/AIDS. (A full list of budget cuts is after the jump.)

What's interesting about the reaction to these cuts is that if any other country stopped buying American goods and services so abruptly, we Americans would almost consider it an act of war. In the 80's, there was a large campaign in the US and all over the world to do that with respect to companies that worked with South Africa and South African goods, causing lots of economic pain to the country in hopes that it would inspire them to end Apartheid.

It was called "divestment." It was meant to cause pain.

Today, pressure is being put on the government to stop buying American goods and services, to divest in its own country. But instead of caving and giving into these people's demands to get the pain to stop, Americans are probably just going to keep on voting for the people who want to increase the pain.

It's worth mentioning that bringing an end to hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, where there's tons more money being spent, is out of the question. But the wars are huge welfare programs for the wealthy and the wealthy don't want the gravy train to end. The point is to divest in poor, working class, and middle class America, not the rich. The rich are too fragile to even pay Clinton-era tax rates; why should they have to give up their government contracts?

Instead Americans who had the bad idea to get sick, disabled, or catch an STD, while having no means to pay for the treatments out of pocket, will be punished because rich people who have such misfortune can pay for the treatments they need themselves. Sure, it hurts society overall, including the rich, but one could say that about the divestment plan overall. As James Galbraith pointed out in his last book, even though a strong economy will provide the rich (and everyone else) with more real wealth than a tax break will, the rich will take the tax break every time. It's just how they roll.

Here's the full list. It seems like they stuck pretty closely to the sorts of services Republicans really hate, although it's surprising to see a few of them on the list. Expect the Democrats to meet them halfway and accept $90 billion in budget cuts instead of $100 billion in cuts, all while, if anything, the government should be spending more.

· Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies -$30M
· Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy -$899M
· Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability -$49M
· Nuclear Energy -$169M
· Fossil Energy Research -$31M
· Clean Coal Technology -$18M
· Strategic Petroleum Reserve -$15M
· Energy Information Administration -$34M
· Office of Science -$1.1B
· Power Marketing Administrations -$52M
· Department of Treasury -$268M
· Internal Revenue Service -$593M
· Treasury Forfeiture Fund -$338M
· GSA Federal Buildings Fund -$1.7B
· ONDCP -$69M
· International Trade Administration -$93M
· Economic Development Assistance -$16M
· Minority Business Development Agency -$2M
· National Institute of Standards and Technology -$186M
· NOAA -$336M
· National Drug Intelligence Center -$11M
· Law Enforcement Wireless Communications -$52M
· US Marshals Service -$10M
· FBI -$74M
· State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance -$256M
· Juvenile Justice -$2.3M
· COPS -$600M
· NASA -$379M
· NSF -$139M
· Legal Services Corporation -$75M
· EPA -$1.6B
· Food Safety and Inspection Services -$53M
· Farm Service Agency -$201M
· Agriculture Research -$246M
· Natural Resource Conservation Service -$46M
· Rural Development Programs -$237M
· WIC -$758M
· International Food Aid grants -$544M
· FDA -$220M
· Land and Water Conservation Fund -$348M
· National Archives and Record Service -$20M
· DOE Loan Guarantee Authority -$1.4B
· EPA GHG Reporting Registry -$9M
· USGS -$27M
· EPA Cap and Trade Technical Assistance -$5M
· EPA State and Local Air Quality Management -$25M
· Fish and Wildlife Service -$72M
· Smithsonian -$7.3M
· National Park Service -$51M
· Clean Water State Revolving Fund -$700M
· Drinking Water State Revolving Fund -$250M
· EPA Brownfields -$48M
· Forest Service -$38M
· National Endowment for the Arts -$6M
· National Endowment for the Humanities -$6M
· Job Training Programs -$2B
· Community Health Centers -$1.3B
· Maternal and Child Health Block Grants -$210M
· Family Planning -$327M
· Poison Control Centers -$27M
· CDC -$755M
· NIH -$1B
· Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services -$96M
· LIHEAP Contingency fund -$400M
· Community Services Block Grant -$405M
· High Speed Rail -$1B
· FAA Next Gen -$234M
· Amtrak -$224M
· HUD Community Development Fund -$530M

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You always put your zingers in the very last sentence. Why should the government be spending more? We're already 14 trillion dollars in debt!

Short answer: Money isn't a natural resource that we only get a limited amount of each year. I was talking to an American recently who complained that the government was just going to print more money... as if someone else should be printing the money? Or we should be confident that the government has already printed enough? That there's enough? That it's in the right places?

Money, if used correctly, creates wealth.

Less-short answer: The reason debt has sky-rocketed recently is that the economy has descended into suckiness, not because spending is actually up. This is mainly because of reduced aggregate demand caused by unemployment and increased private debt.

The easiest way to get out would be to have the government act as replace buyers of Americans goods and services (by increasing spending) and can replace private capital by getting money into the hands of employers and, therefore, employees.

Inflation is at a miniscule .8% and banks are refusing to lend because holding money is a better investment than lending it... that's fine, it's their choice, etc., but capital in a capitalist economy is such an important resource that someone should be willing to provide it when private industry is unwilling to.

Thus increased spending on American products, a buycott (as the religious right likes to say) of the USA, because no one else is planning an American buycott.

Anyway, that's where that last sentence comes from. Unemployment is high, so spending should increase (and it should be targeted to job creation, tracked, etc.)

If only they'd boycott the ballot box now...

theflyingarab | February 16, 2011 1:23 AM

Well, as long as our military is virile, we won't need silly things like "disease control" or "clean drinking water."