The Republican Study Committee, aka “the caucus of House conservatives,” has released a list of proposed spending cuts that it says will add up to $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Dave Weigel has a tidy summary here. Although for the most part the line items add up to a list of cherished liberal priorities (no defense spending or homeland security cuts here, no indeed!), I’m guessing that the average person will glance at it and see some things that they don’t think the government should be funding. Mohair subsidies?
But it’s worth drilling down on the third biggest item on the list — weighing in at $16.1 billion — the “Repealing Medicaid FMAP increase,” because I can’t think of anything that better demonstrates the priorities of the current Republican Party.
As Leonard points out we do not have quite the problem with good old-fashioned pain, death and misery in the streets during the Great Recession as compared to the Great Depression because as the Obama administration took office, they authorized a big increase in Medicaid funding. That was part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, otherwise known as the stimulus bill. This special appropriation of funds was called FMAP — Federal Medical Assistance Percentage. Those appropriations saved a lot of public sector jobs. People who continued to buy stuff and keep the economy from getting even worse. Those funds are about depleted ( ending June 2011). Does it matter FMAP has a stimulus effect and provides health care for millions. Not if you’re a conservative. Even if you are a conservative with elderly or poor relatives. What’s important is cutting the deficit. It is the year of the born again deficit peacocks. House Conservatives Introduce Spending Cuts: $2.5 Trillion Over Ten Years
The proposal does what Republicans have been talking about for two years — “repeal” of remaining stimulus funds (now $45 billion), privatizing Fannie and Freddie ($30 billion), repealing Medicaid’ FMAP increase ($16.1 billion), and what they estimate at $330 billion in discretionary spending cuts. Highlights of these projected annual savings:
- Cutting the federal workforce by 15 percent through attrition, and do this by allowing only one new federal worker for every two who quit.
- Killing the “fund for Obamacare administrative costs” for $900 million
- Ending Amtrak subsidies for $1.565 billion
- Ending intercity and high speed rail grants for $2.5 billion
- Repealing Davis-Bacon for $1 billion
- Cutting annual general assistance to the District of Columbia by $210 million, and cutting the subsidy for DC’s transit authority by $150 million.
Republicans are actually saying they will cut the deficit by $2.5 trillion. The problem is they can only come up with $330 billion in specific cuts. The rest are presumed waiting out there in the ether of the night to be tracked down at some future date by the same people who guaranteed us invading Iraq would pay for itself. One way Republicans think they can kill the Affordable Care Act is through the back door – not provide funding. The problem with blocking the implementation of ObamaCare is that it would increase the deficit over the years 2012-2019 by $290 billion. It would also have a devastating effect on the majority of American workers and small business,
1. 50 Million Uninsured
2. 25 Million More Underinsured
3. Rapid Deterioration of Employer-Based Coverage
4. 1 in 5 Americans Already Postponing Their Medical Care
5. Over 60% of Bankruptcies Due to Medical Bills
6. Family Premiums Would Double in 10 Years
7. Near-Monopoly Status in 94% of Insurance Markets
8. Dramatic Decline in Emergency Room Capacity
9. 45,000 Uninsured Americans Needlessly Dying Each Year
10. Continued Faiure for Red State Health Care
Republicans need to demonize health care reform with the death panels myths to distract from the fact they will kill more Americans with legislation than Jared Loughner could ever dream of.
Repeal Davis-Bacon? DB is a near century old act of congress which says contractors are required to pay prevailing local wages for government projects. Why would conservatives object to a worker being paid a fair wage. It goes back to their plantation philosophy of capitalism. If they have to pay wages, that’s ok, but lets not feel morally or even economically obligated to pay someone enough to live above poverty level.
Cutting the federal work force. Adding millions of people to the roles of the unemployed during a recession seems counter productive. Lets say the economy constitutes to pick up steam. Even than could the private sector make up for 15% of about 750, 000 civilian federal employees. This is a tricky figure to begin with since so much of what was formerly done by government agencies is now outsourced. In 2009 we paid $540 billion to government contractors. Much of this zeal for outsourcing was by way of conservatives – with some help from the usual conservative Democrats. Those contractors – Blackwater(Xe) and a 1000 others see the govmint as their cash cow – A hidden world, growing beyond control
The investigation’s other findings include:
* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.
* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.
There is no indication from this latest pandering to deficit peacock fever Republicans are willing to challenge much of the status quo on anything related to military spending. They have put foreign aid on the table but the two biggest recipients of that relative small amount of aid are Israel and Egypt. Conservatives say they will not go after Social Security and Medicare. As usual when it comes to those programs watch what they do not what they say. How much could conservatives have cut the deficit if they acted responsibly and advocated for most of the Bush tax cuts expire? About $3.9 trillion. Let’s imagine a few things. We had a time machine and Republicans were actually mature responsible adults. It is December 2010 and Republicans come up with a goal of reducing the deficit by $2.5 trillion. One easy, no gimmick way they could have done that is by keeping about $1.4 trillion of the old tax cuts – whatever income range that would have been, say everyone earning under $300k a year, and letting the rest expire. Now we’re nickel and diming our way to small reductions by way of cutting high-speed rail and making blue-collar workers get by on even less than they’re making now. Protect the wealthiest Americans at any cost and make those at the median income level and below pay for it. An obvious and egregious example of how blindly elitist the conservative movement continues to be.
Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued a written appeal to Fox News president Roger Ailes to help put a stop to the increasing threats against progressive Professor Frances Fox Piven, largely incited by Fox News host Glenn Beck. In the letter, co-written by Legal Director Bill Quigley and Executive Director Vince Warren the CCR asks that Ailes distinguish between First Amendment rights, of which they are “vigorous defenders” and an “intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods [that place that person] in actual physical danger of a violent response.”
Beginning in September of 2010, Glenn Beck started branding Piven, a distinguished professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, as an “enemy of the Constitution.” Piven, well known for advocating for the organizational rights of the poor and encouraging voter registration, has since received threatening phone calls and letters, and has become the subject of many death threats left open to the public on Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze.”
These conservative crackpots have been around since the Teddy Roosevelt administration, but Beck seems to have a special talent for bringing them out from under their rocks.