Today House Republicans Try To Sneak Through Ryan's Kill Medicare Plan Again
This time they've got some new wrapping paper for the thoroughly discredited Ryan budget: Cut, Cap & Balance in the House and a Balanced Budget Amendment in the Senate. And both are actually even worse than Ryan's budget! So while Republican Party hostage takers and terrorists continue to threaten to crash the economy again if they don't get their way on whatever they want this week-- and with a new poll showing that 71% of Americans have no confidence in how Boehner, Cantor, Ryan and their House cronies are handling the debt crisis-- the latest right-wing gimmick will be voted on later today... before disappearing just as Ryan's ridiculous budget did. One measure would seek to limit federal spending at 18% of gross domestic product and the other at 22%. As the Center for American Progress points out, "the last time federal spending dipped under 18% of GDP was 1966, nearly half a century ago. Things have changed quote a but since then." Please click on their infographic to enlarge it:
Like Ryan's rejected and disdained budget, this "plan," would basically gut Medicare, Medicaid and threaten the existence of Social Security and public education. Of course those are all long-cherished goals of the far right. It would virtually guarantee the country's rapid and probably irreversible decent into the ranks of the Third World. Remember Grover Norquist's raging nonsense about drowning the federal government in a bathtub? They're trying it again.
The White House pointed out that the House plan “would undercut the Federal Government’s ability to meet its core commitments to seniors, middle-class families and the most vulnerable, while reducing our ability to invest in our future,” while imposing “unrealistic spending caps that could result in significant cuts to education, research and development, and other programs critical to growing our economy and winning the future.” It would “lead to severe cuts in Medicare and Social Security” and said the Balanced Budget Amendment “will likely leave the nation unable to meet its core commitment of ensuring dignity in retirement.”
The front-runner in the GOP presidential freak show, Michele Bachmann, of course, loves it. I wonder how many of her supporters have the capacity to figure out how badly this would devastate their standard of living. The Democrats on the House Budget Committee put it like this:
The Republicans’ newly introduced “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011” (H.R. 2560) is yet another attempt to enact the policies they approved with their budget resolution this spring-- to end the Medicare guarantee while continuing tax breaks for special interests and the wealthy. It requires immediate and steep spending cuts starting this October that will put more Americans out of work while the country is still recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression. It caps total spending-- including mandatory spending programs, such as unemployment benefits, that are designed to grow when the economy is bad-- for fiscal years 2013-2021 at lower percentages of the economy (Gross Domestic Product, or GDP). More immediately, it requires passage of a specific type of a so-called “balanced budget” constitutional amendment by both the House and the Senate before the debt limit can be increased. This new hurdle makes it even harder for Congress to increase the debt limit by August 2, which it must do to avoid fiscal calamity and higher interest costs for consumers and the government alike.
Listening in on a White House press briefing yesterday by Jason Furman from the National Economic Council and Obama's Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer it was clear the White House sees right through the GOP silliness with this new tact to get Ryan's kill-Medicare proposals passed. Pfeiffer:
[I]t’s important also to understand that what this Cut, Cap and Balance plan does is it essentially enshrines into the Constitution the Ryan plan on steroids. Unless House Republicans are willing to raise revenues, significant revenues, something they have refused to do, it would require much deeper spending cuts than in the Ryan plan. This would result in even more devastating cuts to clean energy, education and health care for children and people with disabilities.
The Ryan plan would force a senior to pay more than $6,000 for health care. The plan being considered by the House would require even further Medicare cuts, making health care for seniors much more expensive and less accessible.
And it goes after Social Security. And the whole basis of an American middle class and a progressive middle class society... forever. Furman:
The legislation being considered today, though, goes well beyond the Ryan budget, because it also includes a requirement that both houses of Congress pass a balanced budget amendment before the debt limit can be raised. Now, first of all, this is basically holding the debt-- the equivalent of holding the debt limit hostage to an extreme agenda that’s well outside the bounds of anything that could pass the Senate and likely even anything that could pass the House with the magnitude needed for an amendment of this type.
And the reason for that is clear, is that this balanced budget amendment is essentially historically unparalleled. In the past, balanced budget amendments required you to balance the budget, period; left it to Congress to figure out how to do it. What this balanced budget amendment does-- these balanced budget amendments would do is, number one, add in spending caps. And the spending caps in the balanced budget amendment that are referenced in the legislation and would be consistent with what the legislation requires would require cutting spending by $400 billion per year relative to the Ryan budget.
So the spending caps in these balanced budget amendments that are referenced in the legislation have literally, over the next decade, trillions of dollars of spending cuts above and beyond what would be required in the Ryan budget. It’s almost inconceivable that you would be able to do spending cuts of this magnitude absent dramatic reductions in Social Security and Medicare.
For example, if you exempted defense spending, you would need a 12 percent cut in all spending, including Social Security-- that would be a $2,000-per-year reduction in average benefits-- and a 12 percent reduction in Medicare.
The other reason that those cuts would be virtually guaranteed by the balanced budget amendment is because, unlike previous balanced budget amendments, it has a two-thirds supermajority to raise taxes. That would make it virtually impossible that you would get any additional revenue, which would guarantee that you would need to balance the budget at the expense of spending.
It’s important to understand that you don’t need a balanced budget amendment to cut spending, you don’t need a balanced budget amendment to get the deficit under control. And, in fact, the Ryan budget itself has deficits of over 1 percent of GDP and nearly 2 percent of GDP in most years. So even the Ryan plan would fail the test being put forward in the extreme, radical, unprecedented balanced budget amendments that are contemplated in this legislation.
For all those reasons, the President has said he would veto legislations of this nature, and at the same time, wants to pursue a responsible course that’s both balanced, that’s consistent with economic recovery, and that doesn’t shortchange critical priorities like infrastructure, education, clean energy and Medicare.