Friday, November 18, 2005


Soak the middle class and poor! Part II

Did you ever really question where the heart of the GOP lies? Did you ever really doubt that Republicans are the party of, by and for the rich? Yeah, you probably did, as have I at times.

Therefore, we should thank the GOP for its performance in the wee hours of this morning as the unsuspecting slumbered under the illusion that $50 billion in spending cuts for the middle class and poor had been summarily defeated the previous evening. But with their stealth victory, Congressional Republicans have now stripped bare any pretense that they ever really give a rat's behind about any of us little people, beyond our votes they could buy cheaply in exchange for meaningless platitudes about family values. With Senate Republicans voting in concert to enact $60 billion in tax cuts for those with large stock portfolios, Hastert, Blunt and Co. have made a bold, brave and unflinching stand for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans and the Fortune 500. Indeed, these guys are no hypocrites, and I personally appreciate their frank honesty.

For the record, not a single Democrat voted for either measure.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, using information from the Congressional Budget Office, has made the following projections related to what henceforth should be called the Friday Morning Massacre:

*Cuts to Medicaid will total more than $30 billion when carried out over 10 years, resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs for the poor. In some cases, those expenses could push more than 100,000 people off the Medicaid rolls.

*States are no longer required to provide comprehensive preventive care and treatment to children living just above the poverty line.

*More than 220,000 people will lose food stamps. Some are Americans who live just above the poverty line, but whose disposable incomes are diminished by high housing costs and other considerations. Many others are legal residents from other countries whose eligibility will be pushed back from five years after arriving in America to seven years.

*Child care subsidies will be eliminated for 330,000 children of low-income working parents participating in "workfare" programs.

*Funding cuts to child support collection efforts will result in an estimated $24 billion in uncollected child support payments.

* Cuts in foster care benefits will affect an unspecified number of children living with grandparents and other relatives. (Let's not forget, Missourians, that our Boy Governor and son of the new Senate majority leader already took an ax to foster care payments here in the Show-Me State.)

Read more about it here

For those of you unmoved by these attacks on our nation's most vulnerable, don't forget the bloodletting of federal student loan expenditures rendered under these cuts or the more than $1 billion in cuts to the Centers for Disease Control, rural health care and flu pandemic prevention measures.

In the meantime, House Speaker Dennis Hastert quickly postponed the vote on its own $56 billion capital gains tax cut that was scheduled for today, lest slumbering Americans linked it to the Friday Morning Massacre. Republicans want us to believe that these spending cuts are an effort to restrain the recent trend in reckless spending, although I'm sure they hope we don't remember that they themselves are responsible for this binge. Instead these spending cuts are merely to offset further tax cuts for their wealthy friends who fund their campaigns. As far as these tax cuts go, 53 percent of them will go to the .2 percent of Americans who earn $1 million or more each year, according to the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center.

But hey, Republicans tell us, these aren't really spending cuts. They're merely cuts on future spending increases. Hopefully, 200,000 former food stamp recipients can chew on this piece of wisdom come meal time. As for what else they might have to eat, that's now their problem.

The last refuge of a scoundrel

Bush and Cheney are charging full speed ahead in their attempts to discredit and villify anyone who might second-guess the war in Iraq. We saw this with John Murtha, whose calls to end the war, has left right-wing bloggers and pundits seething with rage. You know the Right's ongoing pathetic attempts to paint anyone who might question the war as unpatriotic, unsupportive of our troops and an aide to terrorists. Apparently, 60 percent of Americans disagree. In light of all this, I thought I would close with a few quotes:

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else."
- Teddy Roosevelt

"The Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them.... To question your government is not unpatriotic - to not question your government is unpatriotic."
- Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.

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