Sep 222005
 
  • A nice little tax cut for your wealthy friends – $327 billion
  • Some corporate welfare for your campaign contributors in the oil business – $8.5 Billion
  • Having a king-sized natural disaster to help you try to cut the programs you don’t like for the old and poor – Priceless
  • For everything else, there’s the queers.

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 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.

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 would 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 along. 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.

 Republican Offsets      Progressive Offsets  
 Title III Program Cuts  $307B    Rollback Tax Cuts for the Wealthy  $327B
Other including DoD and DHS  $333B    Eliminate Offshore Tax Shelters  $  65B
 Cut Federal Share of Medicaid  $225B    Repeal Oil Industry Subsidies  $    8.5B
 Increase Medicaid Copayments  $    8B    Allow Medicare Mail Order Drug Purchases  $  43B
 Eliminate Loans To Graduate Students  $    8.5B    Shelve unnecessary Defense Systems  $200B
 Restriction on Federal Retiree Healthcare and Pensions  $   11B    Eliminate Agricultural Export Subsidies  $  30B
 Foreign Operations Budget  $   37B    Eliminate 1/2 of 6,371 Transportation Bill Projects  $  12B

 TOTAL After 10 Years

 $929B  

 TOTAL Savings after only five years

 $685.5B

Let’s take a special look at some of the cuts included in the Republican Plan. I think most agregious is their call to eliminate "Corporate Welfare." This from a Congress that gave the oil companies, already experiencing windfall profits, huge subsidies in the just passed energy bill. Take a look at a partial list and see if you notice any patterns:

  • Eliminate the Applied Research for Renewable Energy Sources Program
  • Eliminate the Clean Coal Technology Program
  • Eliminate the FreedomCAR Program
  • Eliminate the ITA’s Trade Promotion Activates
  • Eliminate the Advanced Technology Program
  • Repeal the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act
  • Eliminate the Foreign Market Development Program
  • Eliminate the Market Access Program
  • Eliminate the Export Enhancement Program
  • Eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative

I see a pattern of eliminating anything that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, and makes it easier on coal polluters. I also see an elimination of those things that help small businesses get export opportunities. I don’t see anything about eliminating subsidies to the oil industry. I’d call that corporate welfare…but on top of not eliminating their subsidies, how about we eliminate all the research that might impune on their windfall profits.

And here’s some of the Title III funding cuts that are proposed.

Naturally, we don’t really need more support for math and science education. I mean, we’re already behind the rest of the developed world, so why not drop behind the rest of the w
orld. I mean, after all, that science and math stuff just seems to get in the way of religious indoctrination (read Intelligent Design). And really, do we need to support the arts and humanities. I mean that can lead to creative thought and question of authority, so that’s gotta go too:

  • Eliminate the National Science Foundation Math and Science Program
  • Eliminate the Science to Achieve Results Program
  • Eliminate Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts
  • Eliminate Funding for National Endowment for Humanities
  • Eliminate the National Parks Heritage Areas and Statutory Aid
  • Eliminate Federal Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Of course anything related to environmental protection and conservation just makes it harder to throw bones to Republican friends in the oil and related industries. And naturally anything that encourages conservation reduces oil company profits, so out with most of that:

  • Reduce DOE Environmental Management
  • Eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Eliminate State and Community Grants for Energy Conservation
  • Scale Back the Conservation Security Program
  • Limit Future Enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program
  • Eliminate Federal Grants for Wastewater Infrastructure
  • Eliminate the Energy Star Program
  • Reduce Federal Subsidies for Amtrak
  • Eliminate the Next Generation of High-Speed Rail
  • Eliminate the New Starts Transit Program

And enough already with all this bleeding heart support for school children and teens. I mean…reeealllly now. Should we actually help school children have one good meal a day?

  • Eliminate the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
  • Eliminate State Grants for Safe and Drug-Free Schools
  • Eliminate the Even Start Program
  • Eliminate Subsidized Loans to Graduate Students
  • Eliminate Teen Funding Portion of Title X Family Planning
  • Eliminate the Leveraging Educational Assistance Program
  • Eliminate Funding for the National and Community Service Act
  • Eliminate School Lunches for Students Above 350% of Poverty

Healthcare for the poor and needy? How about, "get a job and get insurance?"

  • Level Funding for Community Health Centers
  • Reduce Funding for the Centers for Disease Control

Post Office…don’t need it, let FedEx and UPS handle things…another nice corporate giveaway.

That whole Constitutional thing about having a right to representation…that was just quaint an old fashioned.

  • Eliminate Legal Services Corporation
  • Eliminate High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program

Presidential Election Campaign fund…are you kidding….when the Republicans can raise all the money they need from their corporate sponsors, why should they support the competition? Outta here.

Of course, you can’t balance the budget on the backs of PBS viewers, grad students and other outside-the-mainstream liberals alone. So the Republican plan also calls for "rational reforms to Defense and Homeland Security." Does this mean cutting weapons systems at the expense of big defense corporations? Well, no. But it does mean closing schools for the children of soldiers, cutting grants for local responders and offering National Guard members the "option" to purchase a less comprehensive healthcare plan.

You really have to click the link and read this thing to see what’s on it. Can I agree with a few of the cuts..sure. The government’s always been full of waste. But, its pretty clear that the money needed can be obtained not by kicking the down and out even more, but by asking the wealthiest people and corporations to pony up. Its not hard, and if you sit on your butt, the Republicans will ge their way. This is not a plan that has any sense of moral and Christian values. Remember Jesus’ admonition?…"In as much as you do it to the least of these….Republicans and moral values…I think NOT!

Do you remember the old phrase from typing class, "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country?" Well now might be the time.

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