Monday, October 17, 2005

Balancing Act

…in his criticism of the House Republican plan to delay payments to the working poor to save money in the 2000 budget […] Bush said they should not be trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.Washington Post, Sunday, October 3, 1999

It would do well for the Republicans to remember that bit of advice from then-Gov. Bush.

Beginning this week, the House GOP lawmakers will take steps to cut as much as $50 billion from the fiscal 2006 budget for health care for the poor, food stamps and farm supports, as well as considering across-the-board cuts in other programs. Only last month, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) and other GOP leaders quashed demands within their party for budget cuts to pay for the soaring cost of hurricane relief.

Well, they’ll tell us, that was then and this is now. Everything has changed, you see. 9/11. Hurricane Katrina. Iraq. And did they mention 9/11?

Yes, they did, but they forgot to mention all those nice tax cuts they gave to the wealthiest 1% of the nation, and all those wonderful plans for getting the Iraq war to pay for itself with oil revenue have blown up like a ’78 Subaru parked on the side of the road in Baghdad. In addition, passing a highway bill that has more money and pork in it than what we spent to fight World War II isn’t helping, either.

I am sure that someone can come up with a sane way of saving money and getting our budget back in balance; it’s not like it’s an impossible task. Didn’t we do it recently? There may even be ways of trimming back some of the programs that they mention without harming the programs themselves, but this bunch and their “Operation Offset” are acting as if they would like to return the country to March 3, 1933 — the last day of the Hoover administration. That they would choose to do it by singling out such programs, each certain to rile their own special interest groups, shows not only a lack of political acumen but also a stunning ignorance of the fact that the reason we have such programs is to soften the blow of such disasters; so that people who have the most to lose will not lose everything.

The only offset that may come from this operation is that a bunch of right-wing congressmen may be out of work. That’s one way to save money.