GOP Budget Slashes Tax Rates for the 1 Percent, Safety Net for Everyone Else

Proposal, columnist writes, ‘is based on an economic philosophy that has failed the country and its people savagely in the past and inevitably will do so again.’

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

U.S. Congressman Tom Price, House Budget Committee chairman and lead author of the House budget blueprint, speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

U.S. Congressman Tom Price, House Budget Committee chairman and lead author of the House budget blueprint, speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Revealing their commitment to ravaging critical safety net programs while accommodating corporations and the ultra-wealthy, the Republican-controlled House unveiled on Tuesday a budget proposal (pdf) that would undermine both Social Security and Medicare, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and prioritize tax cuts for the one percent—all while boosting defense spending.

The U.S. Senate, also majority Republican, is expected to introduce similar legislation on Wednesday.

According to news reports, the initial proposals, authored by House Budget Committee chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Senate Budget Committee chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), seek to balance the federal budget over 10 years, without raising taxes. To achieve those goals, the plans are expected to include $5 trillion in cuts to domestic programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Pell grants, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, over the course of the next decade.

It would provide $90 billion in additional war funding—much more than the $51 billion proposed by President Barack Obama—while pushing cuts to renewable energy incentives and climate change programs and repealing parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

And, as Sahil Kapur writes for Talking Points Memo, “the budget sets the stage for a showdown next year on Social Security.”

The New York Times notes that the proposal “leans heavily on the policy prescriptions that Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin outlined when he was budget chairman”—prescriptions that were blasted at the time as “a path to more adversity.”

According to Politico:

Price, like previous Budget Committee chairmen in both parties, is using his proposal to push an aggressive policy agenda that is far broader than a simple focus on spending and deficits. Like the Ryan budgets of previous years, Price sees government as the cause of economic problems in the country and seeks to rein in federal spending — and power — by shifting programs back to state control or eliminating them outright.

For instance, the Budget Committee notes that there are 92 different anti-poverty programs, 17 food aid programs and 22 housing assistance programs. Similar overlaps have been found in federal job-training progams, it says. Price recommends eliminating or reducing many of these programs. The maximum award under Pell grants would be frozen for a decade, helping slow the huge increases in college costs. Regulations required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial services reform law are also being targeted as needlessly burdensome on the financial services industry and slowing economic growth.

The austere budget plan drew immediate criticism from many corners.

“There should be no compromise from the Democratic minority on any of this,” political analyst Charles Pierce wrote at Esquire. “It should be rejected, root and branch, because it is based on an economic philosophy, and an overall view of the relationship between people and their government, that has failed the country and its people savagely in the past and inevitably will do so again.”

In his breakdown of intra-party budget battles, Dave Johnson of the Campaign for America’s Future noted that despite any splits over specifics, the governing majority has one common desire.

“All of these Republican factions want the government cut back,” Johnson wrote. “None of them care about investing in infrastructure, investing in science, investing in education, expanding health care and safety-net programs for people who need it, or otherwise helping the public.”

Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress joined in calling on Congress to reject the proposal.

“Republicans are talking big with respect to tackling income inequality and wage stagnation, but the House budget proposal does not match their rhetoric,” she said. “Rather than creating jobs with investments in infrastructure and education or strengthening health care and nutrition programs to give families a foothold to climb into the middle class, the House majority has once again prioritized big tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations.”

In USA Today on Monday, journalist Nicole Gaudiano reported that Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who may run for president in 2016, plans to fight the GOP budget plan tooth and nail.

Sanders, she wrote, said he wants to take next year’s budget resolution in a “radically different” direction from the one preferred by House and Senate Republicans, declaring: “I’m going to work as hard as I can with other progressive members of the Senate to do everything we can to make sure this budget is not balanced on the backs of working families and low-income Americans.”


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Close the Gun Show Loophole

Some weapons are too dangerous for civilian use.

— by Elizabeth Rose, Communications Director, Campaign for America’s Future

Elizabeth Rose

Dozens of Americans will be murdered, hundreds of others will be shot, and nearly 1,000 will be robbed or assaulted with a gunTODAY.

The United States has some of the weakest gun laws in the world. To make us, our families, and our communities safer, we need to beef up a few of those laws — now.

As President Barack Obama has urged, Congress should vote soon on common-sense gun laws that will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Sensible steps include requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale, making gun trafficking a federal crime, and banning the military-style assault weapon that killed so many people in Newtown on December 14.

It’s madness to allow guns to be sold to felons with a history of gun violence or to the mentally ill. That’s why current law requires that no gun can be sold by a licensed gun dealer without a criminal background check. But millions of guns are sold by unlicensed sellers at gun shows and through websites with no background checks. We need to strengthen current law to cover all gun sales. The few minutes it takes to complete a computerized check would save lives.

NRA-education-cartoon

NRA Lesson Plan, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

The federal background check law has blocked more than 1.5 million illegal gun sales over the past 14 years. It works. The problem is that the law doesn’t apply to private sales, so the bad guys (and gals) can avoid a background check and get any kind of gun, no questions asked.

Both the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the national Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed mandatory, universal background checks because they know they will save lives. It’s time to close the gun show loophole.

I support the Second Amendment. Even gun owners overwhelmingly favor requiring a criminal background check of anyone purchasing a gun. It will lead to fewer firearm deaths.

Some weapons are too dangerous for civilian use. That’s why the federal government imposed taxes and strict regulations on the manufacturing and distribution of sawed-off shotguns, silencers, very high-caliber firearms, grenades, and bombs nearly 80 years ago. Military-style assault weapons — like the one used to murder defenseless children and educators in Newtown — are versions of military weapons that are designed for rapid fire. They’re weapons of war, and like machine guns, extremely dangerous. We’d be safer without them.

And hunters and sportspeople don’t use these weapons to kill game. Rapid fire is contrary to the whole point of the sport. In the decade that the federal ban on assault weapons was in effect, the percentage of assault weapons traced to crime fell by 66 percent. The ban worked.

Some gun accessories should be outlawed. High-capacity ammunition magazines are designed to shoot a lot of people, quickly. There is no hunting or sporting purpose for these magazines — and that was a major reason for the ban on them between 1994 and 2004. Just like silencers, high-capacity magazines are simply too dangerous for sale to civilians.

The Tucson massacre is a good example. Rep. Gabby Giffords’ shooter had an ammunition magazine with 31 bullets. He was tackled after he shot out his clip and was trying to reload. If the magazine had only 10 rounds, a lot of lives could have been saved.

Let’s work together. Let’s ask our leaders to prevent the next mentally ill person from going to a gun show and buying an automatic weapon with a huge magazine without getting a background check. The police chiefs are asking for this.

What is Washington waiting for?


Elizabeth Rose is the communications director for the Campaign for America’s Future, an organization that promotes progressive policies. Distributed via OtherWords. OtherWords.org