Congressional GOP courts economic disaster

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By Hal Rhodes

It makes neither political nor economic sense, but evidence mounts by the day that the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is determined to wreck the nation’s economy.
It is beyond mindless; it’s reckless.
New Mexico’s freshman Congresswoman Michelle Lujan-Grisham drove the point home last week when the Dist. 1 Democrat warned that Congress must act to avert the disaster of sequestration before March 1 when massive across-the-board federal budget cuts are scheduled to kick in under a measure passed in 2011.
If Congress doesn’t get down to business and do its job — either by producing a budget or by rescinding that sequestration mandate requiring $1 trillion in automatic budget cuts — tens of thousands of New Mexicans will see their jobs vanish, Grisham said while visiting an Albuquerque high-tech company.
According to a recent George Mason University study, Grisham noted, no sector of New Mexico’s economy, be it public or private, will be spared crushing economic blows if Congress — starting with the Republican House majority — allows sequestration to proceed on schedule.
As concerns the national economic impact of the looming budget cuts, the author of that survey, public policy Professor Stephen Fuller, is quite blunt: “The results are bleak but clear …
“The unemployment rate will climb above 9 percent, pushing the economy into recession and reducing projected growth by two-thirds.”
In New Mexico at least 28,000 jobs are at risk, and perhaps even more. Fully 5,000 New Mexico defense-related jobs will be lost. And small business losses are expected to add up to 12,000 jobs, give or take.
And it doesn’t end there. In a separate study conducted by the National Education Association, the impact on New Mexico’s public schools promises to be enormous.
The loss of education jobs alone will be in excess of 330 positions, the NEA study forecasts, and the number of students affected by those job losses will be at least 36,800.
Simply put, public education in New Mexico hangs in the balance.
There’s been a good deal of political chatter of late in this enchanted land about the large number of New Mexico workers and jobs that are being relocated to other states, and it’s a troubling trend.
But the New Mexico jobs that are threatened by sequestration aren’t going anywhere. They’re just going.
Nor should New Mexico workers think about going elsewhere to find the jobs to replace the ones they lost here because every last state in this union will be experiencing huge job losses of their own.
Last week in his State of the Union address the president said, “A growing economy that creates good middle-class job s— that must be the North Star that guides our efforts.”
In these contentious and polarized times, there are probably those among us who would argue with that proposition, although you have to wonder why.
Nonetheless unless Congress acts with dispatch to undo the damage it wrought with that absurd sequestration law it enacted in 2011, we will not be looking at a “growing economy that creates good middle-class jobs.”
We’ll be looking at an economy writhing in contraction precisely because of that congressional enactment.
It’s quite mad, yet even Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, seems to think we are dealing with inevitability here.
Said McConnell on the eve of President Obama’s State of the Union speech, “It’s pretty clear to me that the sequester’s going to go into effect. I have seen no evidence that the House plans to act on this matter before the end of the month.”
All this while Rome burns.