Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"We Must Destroy Federal Government Spending In Order To Control It"

Seeking to avoid accountability for the Federal budget deficit they created, today Congressional House Republicans are debating and voting upon an even more ideologically extreme budget proposal.  It is called the “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act.” 

The White House's reaction has been to label it as an “empty political statement.” Many see it as a political ploy to give Republican incumbents public cover for their refusal to vote for raising the Federal debt limit. 

Fiscal analysts say it is so extreme that even the so-called Ryan Budget released earlier this year to heavy public criticism wouldn't satisfy its mandate.  Those proposed reductions would not be severe enough.

The bill would require total Federal spending to shrink to less than 20 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product by 2018 and permanently cap it there.  It would cut $111 billion commencing October 1st with the new Federal Fiscal Year and $400 billion more each year over the next decade. 

The bill would prohibit any increase in the debt limit until both houses of Congress approve a constitutional amendment for ratification by the states.  The constitutional amendment would prohibit Congress from raising any taxes without a two-third vote in both houses. 

Does the two-third supermajority vote requirement sound familiar?  Yes, as has been the case in California, it would be virtually impossible for Congress to ever raise any revenues or close special interest tax loopholes.

Republicans would also eliminate protections utilized over the past 25 years that exempt core basic assistance programs for the poor from across-the-board cuts.  Instead, it would make all programs subject to them if the spending limit is exceeded.

Supporters falsely claim that they are protecting Social Security and Medicare.  And it is partially true because it doesn’t cut either program in 2012 and does not explicitly subject them to automatic cuts. 

However, lawmakers facing the challenges of cutting trillions of dollars to meet annual spending limits would have no choice other than to make those reductions.  Otherwise, key government operations simply could not function. 

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the largest programs in the Federal budget and they could not escape massive reductions.  The math does not add up.

By 2021, combined expenditures for these programs will be 45 percent greater than all other programs combined, apart from interest payments.  They would be drastically cut under any scenario.

President Obama has vowed to veto the bill and his spokesman calls it “the Ryan plan on steroids.”  Furthermore, it is unlikely to pass the Senate. 

Yet, the real story is that the endless, aggressive political assault on programs for seniors, the poor, and people with disabilities will continue throughout the 2012 election year.  The Republicans will seek to demonize Federal spending programs.

The core strategy is to generate public fear in campaign ads and Republican congressional candidate talking points by pitting middle-income Americans against the poor, elderly, and disabled:  “Cut spending for them, but don’t cut anything affecting me or raise my taxes” will be the message.

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