Thursday, September 22


Via the Progress Report, "Progressives can do better."

With great fanfare, and recalling the "Gingrich Revolution" of the 1990s, House conservatives yesterday proposed a broad set of spending cuts they said would help offset the costs of the Katrina reconstruction effort. Their plan reduces the budget by $500 billion over 10 years, and does so in large part by dismantling programs that invest in middle- and working-class Americans. Progressives can do better. It's possible to cut far more unnecessary federal spending, accomplish it in half the time, and do so while upholding the principles of fiscal responsibility and concern for the common good.

THE CONSERVATIVE APPROACH: The proposal announced yesterday cuts substantial funding from several "long-standing targets of conservative scorn," like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the foreign operations budget. The largest proposed cuts are targeted at Medicaid, "the health care safety net for low-income children, elderly, disabled, pregnant women and parents." The plan cuts $225 billion by converting the federal share of certain Medicaid payments into a block grant, and $8 billion more by increasing Medicaid co-payments. Eliminating subsidized loans to graduate students slices off an additional $8.5 billion. $11 billion more is saved by passing restrictive new rules for federal retiree health care and federal pension programs.

Aha! That's brilliant, increasing Medicaid co-payments. So they'd have us help the poor people of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by charging them more for only healthcare to which they have access.

A PROGRESSIVE APPROACH -- MORE SAVINGS IN LESS TIME: A progressive approach to trimming the budget could result in greater savings over a shorter period of time. For example, rolling back the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans would save $327 billion over five years. Cracking down on offshore tax shelters would save $65 billion over the same time period. Simply allowing Medicare recipients to purchase drugs through the mail would save $43 billion over five years. Repealing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry contained in the recent energy bill fwould save $8.5 billion. Shelving costly and unnecessary weapons systems would save $200 billion. Getting rid of counterproductive agricultural export subsidies would save $30 billion over the first five years alone. Giving up half of the 6,371 special earmarked projects of the 2005 transportation bill would save an additional $12 billion. A progressive approach to trimming the budget could cut $688 billion in federal spending over just five years.

READ THE WHOLE PLAN. The irony of the Rethugs proposing cut after cut in programs benefitting the poor in order to fund the pResident's plan to help the poor of the Gulf Coast makes it painfully obvious that the real goal is to reconstruct New Orleans the physical plant, not New Orleans the community (same for Mississippi Gulf residents). Once again, Bush's fine phrases are exposed as nothing but hot air. The proposed cuts include school lunch subsidies, Federal support for SCHIPs (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) for low-income children, allowing the Social Security Administration -- when it makes overpayments -- to collect the amount no matter how great, reductions in the Bureau of Indian Affairs school construction and refurbishment budget, cuts in all kinds of conservation programs and health and education programs for minorities, community health centers, lower the budget for the Centers for Disease Control, level funding for the FAA...

It's effing unbelievable. Conservative House Republicans will do almost anything to protect sacred tax cuts for the wealthiest of our citizens.

This is war.


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