The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Thursday, September 08, 2005

What Kind of Kool Aid Are These Folks Drinking?

Republicans say hurricane won't stop budget cuts - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in Congress on Wednesday rejected calls by Democrats to suspend work on tax cuts, that would mainly benefit the rich, and spending reductions on social programs because of the huge costs of hurricane relief.

"Now is not the time to cut services for our most vulnerable, cut taxes for our most fortunate and add $35 billion to the deficit," the Democratic leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives said in a letter to their Republican counterparts.

Congressional committees face a September 16 deadline to come up with $35 billion in spending reductions over five years to programs including the Medicaid health-care program for the poor, student loans, food stamps and pension insurance.

The committees are also scheduled to approve $70 billion in tax cuts this month. The cuts could be extensions of reductions on capital gains and dividends, which affect mainly the incomes of the wealthy.

The Democrats said that budget plan "would likely cut programs that many victims of Hurricane Katrina will be relying on" and asked that it be suspended "indefinitely."

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, a Republican from New Hampshire, said "nothing could be further from the truth" and insisted that the spending reductions being considered could have an impact on Gulf Coast aid efforts.

For example, he said that slowing growth in Medicaid by one percent over five years would improve its efficiency by giving governors more flexibility in administering the health care.

"Dramatically more people will be covered" if the budget changes are made, Gregg said

Kent Conrad of North Dakota, the senior Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, countered: "You don't just stick with the same old plan when something of this consequence occurs."

House Republicans said hurricane disaster relief legislation would slow the spending and tax cut legislation by only about two weeks.


You can have your cake and eat it too. If I am correct the message coming from the Republicans is: "we need an extra 60 billion for hurricane relief. But we also need to cut the Paris Hilton Tax. And cut Medicaid. And other programs aimed at the most vulnerable." Just after our society has had to add 1 million more people to the ranks of the most vulnerable because of the disaster.

I am glad the press has gotten a little outraged over the actions of government during the hurricane. But I would be gladder if they could maintain their outrage and skepticism a little longer. The Medicaid program already pays about 25 cents on the dollar of what it costs to deliver medical care. Already only 20% of doctors will accept Medicaid patients becuase reimbursements are so low. Cutting the pension insurance program? Oh yeah, that would be the program that insures against events like US Airways and United from defaulting on their pension obligations. Are these people mad? New Orleans was lost for want of about half a billion in levee repairs and upgrades. The administration wanted to cut $100 million for New Orleans this year while approving a $300 million bridge in Republican Alaska (Approp Comm Chair Ted Stevens) that leads literally to nowhere. We now face a bill of probably $150 billion that we will all pay in some way. Either in higher prices or in higher taxes. The money to rebuild that town will have to come from somewhere. This is madness. It's not simply immoral. It's not simply contrary to my progressive values. This is just madness happening on a daily basis. The media's job is to point this out, not to revert to he said she said discussions of what to do on policy. There are some insights to be drawn here that are not partisan and that should be made. Where are they?


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