On the Backs of the Poor

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According to the Washington Post, the Republican Congressional leadership is having trouble finding enough moderate Republican votes to agree to the 2006 budget, which would shave a mere 0.002 percent of federal spending—yes, that’s all—by hacking apart important programs for the poor and middle classes. Those cuts would include making Medicaid recipients pay more, hacking student loans, weakening child support enforcement, and limting food stamps. The president, compassionate guy that he is, has promised to veto the Senate’s alternative cuts, which would instead save $10 billion by getting rid of a “slush fund” for insurance companies buried in the 2003 Medicare bill. In fact, despite what the Post‘s headline says, this isn’t even fiscal discipline on the part of Congress—the full Republican budget would increase the deficit by $16 billion over five years, due to $70 billion in new tax cuts that were passed separately.

In the end, it seems likely that Hastert and company will get their budget passed, even if they have to twist moderate arms and resort to all the legislative gimmickry in the books. They’ve done it before. They might even have to jettison ANWR drilling from the bill in order to make it palatable to “moderates”—who will bravely vote to limit food stamps and health care for the powerless—and just sneak it back into the budget later on. Republicans are good at this. Nevertheless, “liberal activists”—at least that’s what the Post calls them; one might also say “people with decency”—are putting up a strong fight against the cuts, trying to pressure moderate Republicans:

“It’s a different group every week, coming in here, making calls,” said John Gentzel, communications director for Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), whose suburban Philadelphia district has been “saturated” with budget protests. “It’s just one group after another.”…

This week, Democrats will hold a conference call with a Wisconsin college student to talk about student loan cuts and will serve lunch at a District school to highlight the budget’s impact on subsidized school lunches. They will also stage a mock hearing to tar the entire budget as an effort to finance tax cuts for the rich on the backs of the poor.

Note the Post‘s language—it’s the Democrats who are going to “tar the entire budget.” What exactly does this mean? The budget quite obviously is an effort to finance tax cuts for the rich on the backs of the poor. What else would you possibly call it? Who benefits from tax cuts? Who benefits from Medicaid? Which one is getting passed, and which one hacked? The New York Times, refreshingly, actually saw through this budget nonsense, and tore it apart, but the Post can’t seem to do anything other than give friendly cover to the Republican Party. No doubt they think it’s more “objective” that way.

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