Adding Up the Billions Wasted by House Republicans

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U.S. Capitol: Glynn Wilson

By Nicholas Sheppard

How much have the Republicans cost the taxpayer, directly and in terms of hindered economic potential, since they took over the House in 2010?

A few days ago, the price tag was announced for the Republican lawsuit against the president. House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., said the firm BakerHostetler has been contracted to represent the Republican House in the district court civil suit. According to the contract, the lawsuit will cost up to $350,000, billed at a rate of $500 per hour.

TOTAL: $350,000

In 2011, the House Republicans engaged in a prolonged showdown with the administration over the raising of the debt ceiling, a procedure which, up till then, was largely considered a formality. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that the delay in raising the debt ceiling increased government borrowing costs by $1.3 billion in 2011. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence index plunged from 59.2 in July 2011 to 45.2 in August in the wake of the debt standoff and credit downgrade. The index didn’t recover to its July level until December.

TOTAL: $1,650,000

From October 1 through 16, 2013, the Federal Government entered a shutdown and curtailed most routine operations after the Republican led Congress failed to enact legislation appropriating funds for fiscal year 2014. During the shutdown, approximately 800,000 federal employees were indefinitely furloughed and another 1.3 million were required to report to work without known payment dates.

The financial services company Standard & Poors estimated that the shutdown, which lasted just over two weeks, cost $1.5 billion per day, took a total of $24 billion out of the U.S. economy, and shaved 0.6% off fourth-quarter GDP growth.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the economic cost:

About $3.1 billion in lost government services, according to the research firm IHS.

$152 million per day in lost travel spending, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

$76 million per day lost because of National Parks being shut down, according to the National Park Service.

$217 million per day in lost federal and contractor wages in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area alone.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers bore the economic brunt of the shutdown. But small businesses also suffered from frozen government contracts and stalled business loans. Tourism suffered from closed national parks, and military families had to cope without childcare and other services.

TOTAL: $25,000,650,000

Almost continuously, since 2012, the Republican controlled House has been investigating the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. “The Department has devoted thousands of man-hours to responding to the numerous and often repetitive congressional requests regarding Benghazi,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs Elizabeth King said in a letter to Congress in March. That estimate included “time devoted to approximately 50 congressional hearings, briefings, and interviews which the Department has led or participated in.” King estimated that total cost of compliance with Congress’ requests to the Pentagon and other agencies runs “into the millions of dollars.”

TOTAL: $25,002,650,000

In May, the Republicans formed a special committe to reinvestigate Benghazi – the recently released budget for the house committee is $5,650,000 – bigger than the budgets for the committees on Veteran’s affairs, Intelligence and the budget itself.

TOTAL: $25,008,300,000

When House Republicans voted on a resolution calling on the Department of Justice to appoint a special counsel for the IRS investigation, House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) responded by saying, “The IRS has spent more than $14 million in taxpayer money accommodating Republican requests, turning over more than 600,000 pages of documents, none of which substantiate the GOP’s wild attempt from the get-go to tar the administration.”

GRAND TOTAL: $25,022,300,000

Its amazing that a fiscally conservative party has contrived to spend or waste this much money. Would anyone seriously suggest most of it had been well spent? This is without factoring the economic impact of 1.6 million jobs threatened by the Sequester. We could even look further, and factor in the amount forfeited by Republican run states that have rejected the medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act

One of the most important provisions of the Act is the expansion of health coverage to low-income families through the Medicaid program. 20 states have decided to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. The Urban Institute, Lewin Group and Rand Corp. have issued reports showing these states will lose billions by not expanding Medicaid.

States that refuse to expand Medicaid under the law not only will deny health coverage to poor residents and lose access to a huge influx of federal dollars, they also will see increased spending on uninsured people’s unpaid medical bills.

Many of the states refusing to expand Medicaid under the ACA cite potentially harmful fiscal impacts on their state budgets, although expanding Medicaid coverage costs less than 1 percent of state budgets on average, according to a December report by the Commonwealth Fund.

Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of the net loss of Federal medicaid expansion funds:

Alabama: -$943,000,000

Alaska: -$229,000,000

Florida: -$5,038,000,000

Georgia: -$2,862,000,000

Idaho: -$297,000,000

Kansas: -$950,000,000

Louisiana: -$1,655,000,000

Maine: -$294,000,000

Mississippi: -$431,000,000

Missouri: -$2,249,000,000

Nebraska: -$738,000,000

North Carolina: -$2,591,000,000

Oklahoma: -$1,264,000,000

South Carolina: -$807,000,000

South Dakota: -$224,000,000

Texas: -$9,217,000,000

Utah: -$719,000,000

Virginia: -$2,839,000,000

Wisconsin: -$1,848,000,000

Wyoming: -$166,000,000

This totals more than 30 billion in rejected funds.

Republicans have squandered money on hubristic, base-rousing engagements and re-investigations, and forfeited money available for a wholly legitimate and beneficial expansion of health coverage for low-income families. Sadly, it’s not them who are left counting the costs.

Republished with permission from The Sheppard Post.

© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.