Saturday, April 16, 2011

Michigan House Republicans Vote to Give Massive Tax Cuts to the Wealthy, End Medicare

Maybe this isn't getting a lot of attention because it doesn't have a chance of passing the Senate. Or maybe it isn't getting attention because it is just so far-fetched that no one believes it could ever happen. But let it be known that every US House Republican from Michigan voted to end Medicare as we know it, make huge cuts to Medicaid and turn it into a block grant, slash funding for food stamps and other critical programs - all while giving the wealthy even bigger tax cuts and making the federal deficit worse than it is.

You would think that something as dramatic as the destruction of the federal government's social contract with its citizens, the policies that keep us from being a full-blown Third World country, would garner at least a bold font headline on Michigan newspaper sites, but no.

Maybe they are waiting for Sunday. Or maybe they just don't care. I honestly don't know. This was the lead story at both the New York Times and the Washington Post last night, and it still is close to the top this morning. Here, we have a one-liner at the Freep that leads to this:

In a prelude to a summer showdown with President Barack Obama, Republicans controlling the House pushed to passage on Friday a bold but politically dangerous budget blueprint to slash social safety net programs such as food stamps and Medicaid and fundamentally restructure Medicare health care for seniors.


The plan by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., exposes Republicans to political risk. It proposes transforming Medicare from a program in which the government directly pays medical bills into a voucher-like system that subsidizes purchases of private insurance plans. People 55 and older would remain in the current system, but younger workers would receive subsidies that would steadily lose value over time.

Democrats and many budget experts say this spending-cuts-only approach is fundamentally unfair, targeting social safety net programs while leaving in place a tax system they say bestows too many benefits on wealthy people.

"Many budget experts" have called it a complete joke that makes our deficit worse in the long run. Paul Krugman hasn't stopped talking about it since it was released. Here's one passage from his last column:

Then people who actually understand budget numbers went to work, and it became clear that the proposal wasn’t serious at all. In fact, it was a sick joke. The only real things in it were savage cuts in aid to the needy and the uninsured, huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and Medicare privatization. All the alleged cost savings were pure fantasy.

Here's another, from a different column:

In particular, the original voodoo proposition — the claim that lower taxes mean higher revenue — is still very much there. The Heritage Foundation projection has large tax cuts actually increasing revenue by almost $600 billion over the next 10 years.

A more sober assessment from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office tells a different story. It finds that a large part of the supposed savings from spending cuts would go, not to reduce the deficit, but to pay for tax cuts. In fact, the budget office finds that over the next decade the plan would lead to bigger deficits and more debt than current law.

Every Michigan House Republican voted for this. And barely a peep out of our papers. Hat tip to Chris Gautz at the Jackson Cit-Pat, who stays on top of Tim Walberg news, and managed a short story yesterday. If you remember, Walberg and his out-of-state Club for Growth money made it a point to attack Mark Schauer in this last election over Medicare:

The Wall Street Journal has also recently pointed out that Ryan's plan keeps in place the much-maligned $500 billion in cuts to Medicare that Republicans said were in President's Obama's health-care law.

During last year's campaign, millions were spent on TV ads attacking then Congressman Mark Schauer, who is referenced in the Journal's story, for voting for the cuts. Walberg at the time said the cuts would "hurt seniors."

And it wasn't just Schauer; that ad ran across the country. Now, Walberg and the Republicans have turned around and voted to eliminate the program as we know it altogether.

Does anyone else feel like their head could explode, or is it just me? The Democrats have voiced outrage with a few e-mails about holding people accountable, but seeing as how this is the spring of '11 and the next election is so far away, chances are this fades into the background of the next outrageous and absurd move that comes along.

But let it be known - this is the end game. This is it. This is what the Republicans intend to do at the state and federal level. You are seeing it in motion right now. Everything that benefits regular people of America - schools, health care, public safety, worker's rights, the environment, you name it, everything that makes this country a great place to live - is slated for destruction, so they can give the uber-rich all the money.

That the kind of country you want to live in?