The Hollowing Out of Government
Robert B. Reich
The chemical and fertilizer plant in the town of
There's no way it can do its job with so few resources, but
That's been the Republican strategy in general: When they can't directly repeal laws they don't like, they repeal them indirectly by hollowing them out -- denying funds to fully implement them, and reducing funds to enforce them.
Consider taxes. Republicans have been unable to round up enough votes to cut taxes on big corporations and the wealthy as much as they'd like, so what do they do? They're hollowing out the
Despite an increasing number of billionaires and multimillionaires using every tax dodge imaginable -- laundering their money through phantom corporations and tax havens (Remember Mitt Romney's tax returns?) -- the
To manage the
This budget stinginess doesn't save the government money. Quite the opposite. Less
But congressional Republicans aren't interested in more revenue. Their goal is to cut taxes on big corporations and the wealthy.
In a similar manner, congressional Republicans and their patrons on
As a result, much of Dodd-Frank -- including the so-called "Volcker Rule" restrictions on the kind of derivatives trading that got the Street into trouble in the first place -- is still on the drawing boards.
Perhaps more than any other law, Republicans hate the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Yet despite holding more than 33 votes to repeal it, they still haven't succeeded.
So what do they do? They try to hollow it out. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly denied funding requests to implement Obamacare, leaving
Even before the sequester, the agency was running on the same budget it had before Obamacare was enacted. Now it's lost billions more.
A new insurance marketplace specifically for small business, for example, was supposed to be up and running in January. But officials now say it won't be available until 2015 in the 33 states where the federal government will be running insurance markets known as exchanges.
This is a potentially large blow to Obamacare's political support. A major selling point for the legislation had been providing affordable health insurance to small businesses and their employees.
Yes, and eroding political support is exactly what congressional Republicans want. They fear that Obamacare, once fully implemented, will be too popular to dismantle. So they're out to delay it as long as possible while keeping up a drumbeat about its flaws.
Repealing laws by hollowing them out -- failing to fund their enforcement or implementation -- works because the public doesn't know that it's happening. Enactment of a law attracts attention; defunding it doesn't.
The strategy also seems to bolster the Republican view that government is incompetent. If government can't do what it's supposed to do -- keep workplaces safe, ensure that the rich pay taxes they owe, protect small investors, implement Obamacare -- why give it any additional responsibility?
The public doesn't know that the real reason why the government isn't doing its job is because it's being hollowed out.
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The Hollowing Out of Government | Politics
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