Cutting government programs across the board, heedless of their impact, appears to be intentional on the part of Tea Party Republicans in Congress. At best, some of them may acknowledge that more unemployment isn't good, but all claim that the need to cut government is of much greater importance.
What macroeconomists like Paul Krugman, and liberal policy wonks like Robert Reich ignore is that radical conservatives have a radical agenda, which is why they don't care about precipitating more recession. In their simple worldview, any government that does more than maintain order, protect property and defend our borders is doing too much. In some of their rhetoric, doing more seems to be equivalent to doing the Devil's work.
The mass of people mobilized as Tea Partiers are largely motivated by an unformulated libertarian ideology pre-figured by Ayn Rand, but are also bolstered by American mythology of the frontier; Don't Tread On Me flags have been prominent in Tea Party demos, for example, along with the faux Revolutionary War costumes. Radical conservatives tend to be white, non-urban and older, they appear to subscribe to the idea that everyone is out for themselves, and everyone should be left to sink or swim.
Given such a worldview, cutting Head Start, Mental Health, etc. and furloughing thousands of Federal and State workers is seen as a first victory, not as an economic disaster. That's why compromise with these folks is virtually impossible as Democrats and Obama are discovering. Further, Boehner realizes that he'll only keep his Speakership if he goes along with them, not with Democrats or Obama, or common sense.
What has made the Tea Party, or radical conservative libertarianism, a viable political movement is the money behind it. Why do billionaires like the Koch brothers invest hundreds of millions in the conservative movement? It's to their interest to dismantle government, not only to cut their own tax bills, or their regulatory headaches. It's to their advantage to disarm all the protections that citizens gained through the Progressive movement, the New Deal and the Great Society.
Once people are no longer protected by government, by entities like the National Labor Relations Board (rendered nearly toothless, already), employees will be helpless when facing their employers; small landowners will be helpless confronting corporations and minorities and immigrants will be unable to claim any rights.
Rank and file radical conservatives don't realize that "Freedom" doesn't mean their freedom; it means freedom for corporations and "job creators," aka the wealthy, and the oppression and exploitation of everyone else.
That's what happened at the end of the Roman Empire, when Senators took all the wealth and power, and reduced everyone else to serfdom or slavery.
It's already happening here: Americans have lost most rights they'd won as employees: they work longer hours, are paid less and can be fired almost at will. And all of us are losing our civil rights.