By Moe White –
With the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, WNC’s other representative, Patrick McHenry, has become an even more powerful right-wing Congressional leader.
This summer and fall, as the White House, Senate, and House discuss the 2023-24 budget, watch for McHenry, of NC’s 10th district, to be a major proponent of cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and every other program the government operates to support the pubic.
“That is the biggest challenge in this Congress,” said McHenry, a top ally to McCarthy, in an interview after the final vote for Speaker of the House. He specified that “debt, deficit and the fiscal house — that is a major priority for House Republicans.”
In 2011 the newly empowered Republicans threatened President Obama with default, demanding slashing cuts to domestic programs before they would raise the debt ceiling. At that time just the possibility that the US might not be willing to pay its bills rattled markets worldwide, lowering the entire nation’s credit rating for the first time in history and costing American taxpayers over $1 billion just in increased interest payments. Dow Jones fell by more than 2,000 points in the chaotic fight.
Ever since the Reagan years (1981-88), and especially since Newt Gingrich gained power in the early 1990s, the Republican Party has been determined to eliminate Social Security for all senior citizens by handing it over to the private sector—that is, to allow Wall Street bankers and brokers to manage public funds and rake off profits before sending what’s left to senior citizens. They’ve also prioritized removing the entire “safety net” of government support for individuals, including Medicare for seniors, Medicaid for the poor, and Obamacare for the middle class.
Under their plans, there will be no more national parks, no more EPA to ensure clean air and water, no more federal support to build or repair bridges, roads, and infrastructure; and full privatization of air safety, transportation, water supplies, and everything else currently in the public sphere. The Voting Rights Act will be repealed in its entirety, and the right of state legislatures to determine their own partisan, race-based boundaries will be set into law.
In fact, the party’s stated goal is to make National Defense the only priority for the government, along with cutting the top tax rate for the richest Americans (since 2006 they’ve already slashed it from 75% to 25%)—leaving the rest of us to make up the difference.
When the GOP minority threatened to push the country to the brink of default in 2021, Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, predicted that a default would cut as many as 6 million jobs and destroy $15 trillion in household wealth. At that time, in the minority, Republicans were forced to the sidelines. But now, with their slim majority and wielding the threat of default on the US government’s debts over the heads of the budget writers, the GOP are ready and willing—even eager—to crash the US and world economy into the second Great Depression in order to get their way.
Patrick McHenry is one of the most dangerous members of the House, because he is both a true believer in the evisceration of the federal government and holds a position of great power to accomplish his goals. And, entrenched as he is by the less sophisticated voters who have elected him to Congress ten times since 2004, he has almost no fear of being unseated—unless his constituents finally realize that he’s their enemy, not their Representative.