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img062 - 35 126 Politic by Other Means Once Republicans...

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Unformatted text preview: 35%.; . _. 126 Politic: by Other Means Once Republicans purged the remaining staff agencies-of zealous ‘ Democratic supporters, they began to rebuild them Wltl'l a more . Republican cast. The staff agencies were too useful to Congress to » - be permanently weakened. ‘ . With the support of the Republican leadership and, indeed, much ; of the Republican House delegation, Gingrich then moved to reduce ,_ T the influence of committee chairs by limiting them to three consec-‘ I utive two—year terms; ending the practice of proxy voting, which al- ‘7‘ lowed chairs to control committee votes without the. full . participation of committee members; and eliminating the practice of multiple referral, which allowed several committee chairs to claim jurisdiction over one bill. Reducing the power of the committee ‘. chairs would almost inevitably enhance the power of the Speaker and the majority leadership, who would now have more control over 2:. the appointment of chairs and the referral of bills to committees. _ Finally, Gingrich moved to change the House rules to make it ’1‘ more difficult to vote tax increases and less difficult to cut spend-I _ ing. He proposed that a three—fifths vote be required to pass MY} ‘ piece of legislation that included an income tax increase: At the; same time he suggested new procedures that would make it much , j ' ' ' .i easier for members to offer so—called limitation amendments to. propose cuts in spending bills. ‘ . , Taken together, these changes were desrgried to centralize power. and prepare the Congress to do battle with the Democrats. After . r . . . th , completing its reorganization of the House of Representatives, e GOP launched a major assault upon the institution, programs, and procedures that had strengthened their Democratic opponents, . First, Republicans adopted a budget resolution calling for a bail: anced budget within seven years. Since the GOP also proposed tun increase military spending and to reduce federal taxes by more than. ‘ $245 billion within the same period, the Republican budget would have required substantial reductions in the rate at which spending for existing federal domestic programs increased. The GOP pro - u . ; { would even have limited the growth of such previously untouchable programs as Medicare. The budget proposed by congressmnal Re- 1 fi The ReptlHimrt Oflemiwe I 2 7 publicans in November 1995, indeed, called for reductions in pro- jected Medicare spending of $270 billion over the next seven years, reductions in projected Medicaid spending totaling $163 billion, and reductions in projected welfare spending of $82 billion. In addition, Republicans attacked the federal social and regu- latory agencies that the GOP had long seen as institutional bas— tions of the Democratic party. The weapons forged for this attack were regulatory reform and the devolution of federal administrative responsibilities to the states. The Republicans also called for the elimination of more than three hundred federal programs and agen- cies, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the De— partment of Commerce, and the Legal Services Corporation. The regulatory reform proposals backed by the Republicans would have required federal agencies to justify any proposed health, safety, or environmental regulation through cost—benefit analyses. Such a requirement would have made it considerably more difficult for federal agencies to adopt and enforce rules and regulations that imposed significant costs on either the private sector or state and local governments. Cost-benefit analyses are time—consuming and seldom are fully conclusive. An agency required to prove defini- tively that a proposed rule was economically justified would find itself involved in years of administrative procedures and court chal— lenges before the rule could be adopted. Such “reforms” thus would have made it considerably more difficult and time—consuming for public officials to enact and implement new regulations and hence would have greatly weakened federal regulatory agencies. The very purpose of environmental regulations, for example, is to prevent purely economic concerns from prevailing over other values. More generally, this requirement would have shifted the burden of proof from interests opposed to a regulation to the agency proposing it. Another weapon forged by the GOP to attack federal adminis— trative agencies was devolution. Republicans proposed to convert most public assistance programs (e.g., Aid to Families with De- pendent Children [AFDC] and Medicaid) from federal entitlement programs into block grants to the states. Each state would receive ...
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