House Republicans took the government to the brink of shutdown last spring by demanding across-the-board budget cuts to many vital programs. Instead of focusing on job creation, as Americans wanted them to, the GOP turned its attention to slashing funds for programs that funded assistance for women and children, local law enforcement, the social safety net, environmental protections, and many other programs they deemed as either too expensive or unnecessary. Worse, when challenged on why they hadn’t made the effort to tackle high unemployment, Republicans insisted that their slash-and-burn budget cuts were meant to create jobs.
Not all of those cuts made it through, but the GOP succeeded in passing massive spending reductions as part of a continuing resolution that kept the government operating. According to a new report from the Center for American Progress’ Scott Lilly, those cuts didn’t result in the job creating boon Republicans insisted would follow. Instead, it has done just the opposite, as those cuts will result in the destruction of roughly 370,000 jobs.
Lilly’s report focuses on three major areas where Republicans insisted on spending cuts: funding for local law enforcement, environmental cleanup of sites where nuclear weapons were disabled and destroyed, and investments into construction, repair, and maintenance of government buildings. Cuts to just those three areas will result in the loss of 90,000 jobs, the report found — 60,000 from direct cuts, and 30,000 additional jobs lost from the secondary impacts of job losses in each community.
And according to Lilly, those three areas weren’t among the worst budget cuts forced through by the Republican House:
“Similar stories could be told about many other budget cuts made in this bill—cuts that resulted in further job losses,” said Scott Lilly, author of the report and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “All of the various 250 program reductions in the fiscal year 2011 Continuing Resolution probably eliminated more than 370,000 American jobs. The three areas selected for discussion in this paper are in my judgment neither the worst cuts made by the committee from a policy standpoint nor the best. But without a doubt they demonstrate the consequences of slashing government spending in a weak economy.”
According to the report, the $2.5 billion cut to local law enforcement funding could have prevented 36,000 police layoffs nationwide, and similar cuts made to grant programs could have prevented the loss of other state and local government jobs. Crunched by the recession and budget cuts, state and local governments shed more than 200,000 jobs in 2010 alone. Republicans not only cut such funding this spring but have now opposed the American Jobs Act — which included grants to state and local governments for the hiring of teachers, police officers, and firefighters.