Last year Republicans and Democrats tried to enact a plan to reduce the Federal deficit. The incentive was that if a plan was not enacted there would be large automatic cuts in the Federal budget, with half the cuts coming from Defense and half the cuts coming from Social Programs. The purpose of the automatic cuts was to get a deficit reduction plan accepted by both sides. It didn’t happen.
But Republicans, lacking even the semblance of integrity, knew all along that even though they agreed to the deal, they would not live up to it. Instead they planned that after some time had passed they would not accept any cuts in defense, but take the planned savings from the defense side and impose it on the social programs side. And in the House that is just what they have done.
The House on Thursday approved sweeping legislation to cut $310 billion from the deficit over the next decade — much of it from programs for the poor — and to shift some of that savings to the Pentagon to stave off automatic military spending cuts scheduled for next year.
But what about the deal, what about the integrity of the Republican party, what about the devastation that these cuts will have on those who are least able to absorb them? Why would any of that matter to the Conservatives who now dominate the Republican party with almost exclusive control of the agenda.
The legislation laid bare a small portion of the details needed to fill in the broad strokes of the House Republican budget that passed in March. That budget instructed six committees to find at least $261 billion in savings from domestic programs and policies to defuse $55 billion in automatic Pentagon cuts scheduled to hit Jan. 1 under last year’s agreement to raise the federal debt limit.
To do that, the committees cut food stamps, children’s health insurance and Medicaid, eliminated the Social Services Block Grant to state and local governments (which funds Meals on Wheels, child abuse prevention and other programs) and eliminated a new fund designed to help the government liquidate failed financial giants.
Of the savings, $23.5 billion came from Medicaid and children’s health care, $4.2 billion from hospitals that serve the poor and uninsured, and $33.7 billion from supplemental nutrition assistance. In all, about a quarter of the cuts would come directly from programs that benefit the poor.
And no, this plan has no chance of passing the Senate and becoming law, THIS YEAR. But if Mr. Romney is elected and the Republicans take control of the Senate, both events being more likely than not to occur then this is the program that will pass almost immediately next year.
No, wait, this is not the program that will pass. The program that will pass will have even more cuts to programs that aid low income people and the disabled, with even higher money to the Defense Department. After Mr. Romney is pledging to increase defense spending by over a trillion dollars over a few years, and that has to be paid for somehow even if Mr. Romney is currently unwilling to say how.