Bob Herbert notes that while the rest of the country was caught up in the Schiavo case, the Republicans have been quietly doing some skulduggery on the budget.
President Bush believes in an “ownership” society, which means that except for the wealthy, you’re on your own. The president’s budget would cut funding for Medicaid, food stamps, education, transportation, health care for veterans, law enforcement, medical research and safety inspections for food and drugs. And, of course, it contains big new tax cuts for the wealthy.
These are the new American priorities. Republicans will tell you they were ratified in the last presidential election. We may be locked in a long and costly war, and federal deficits may be spiraling toward the moon, but the era of shared sacrifices is over. This is the era of entrenched exploitation. All sacrifices will be made by working people and the poor, and the vast bulk of the benefits will accrue to the rich.
F.D.R. would have stared slack-jawed at this madness. Even his grand Social Security edifice is under assault by the vandals of the G.O.P.
Conservatives insist the cuts are necessary to get the roaring federal budget deficit under control. But they have trouble keeping a straight face when they tell that story. Laden with tax cuts, the president’s proposal will result in an increase, not a decrease, in the deficit. Shared sacrifice is anathema to the big-money crowd.
The advances in areas like education, antipoverty programs, health services, environmental protection and food safety were achieved after struggles that, in some cases, took many decades. To slide backward now (hurting millions of people in the process) because of a desire to siphon funds from those programs and hand them over as tax cuts to the wealthiest members of our society, is obscene.
This is not a huge national story. It’s just the way things are. It was Herbert Hoover who said: “You know, the only trouble with capitalism is capitalists. They’re too damn greedy.”
You can trust the Republicans…to be Republicans.