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.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Do the WSJ & the NY Times agree?

by Kate Marshall, NV State Treasurer & candidate for NV Secretary of State

vote23_thumb.jpgThis last weekend the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times both ran articles on the misguided efforts by conservatives to limit voter access.

The Face of Our ID problem, Wall Street Journal

Ohio Mistrusts Democracy, New York Times

Does this mean that Wall Street Journal & the New York Times both agree that voter ID does not work?  We cannot let Nevada become another failed experiment by the Koch Brothers who are looking out for their own political agenda instead of everyday Nevadans.


Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?

By the incomparable John Green, who says the following about his sources: “For a much more thorough examination of health care expenses in America, I recommend this series at The Incidental Economist and The Commonwealth Fund’s Study of Health Care Prices in the U.S. Some of the stats in this video also come from this New York Times story.”

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s Coverup of Fracking Water Contamination

Here’s the latest shocking evidence that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is more concerned with promoting fracking than protecting Pennsylvanians.

The DEP intentionally withheld evidence of fracking-related water contamination from three Pennsylvania families.1

According to sworn court testimony from DEP officials, the DEP sent only partial lab test results to the families,2 leaving them in the dark about the fracking-related contaminants in their water, even as they suffered from a slew of health problems.3

The DEP’s actions are reprehensible. At best, they are dangerous. At worst, as State Representative Jesse White has suggested, they are potentially criminal. And they call into question the DEP’s independence from the fracking industry. The people of Pennsylvania deserve a thorough investigation by independent federal authorities to determine the full extent of the DEP’s coverup of fracking water contamination and whether it broke the law.

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s coverup of fracking water contamination.

In court, DEP officials revealed that it is standard procedure at the agency to release only partial lab results to families who complain that their water has been contaminated by fracking. But instead of acknowledging the seriousness of these accusations, the DEP denied that hiding evidence of water contamination is wrong and even brazenly denounced Representative White as ideologically motivated when he called for an investigation.

The DEP claims that the contaminants it found were in concentrations below safe limits. But any evidence of fracking-related contamination is a cause for concern. In Pennsylvania, fracking companies are allowed to keep secret the chemicals they use, which means that any evidence of fracking-related water contamination raises the possibility that there are dangerous chemicals in the water that aren’t even being tested for.5

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s coverup of fracking water contamination.

Pennsylvania’s fracking boom is a national disgrace. While Pennsylvania’s government bends over backward for the gas industry, communities in the state’s gasland have experienced severe problems: explosions, flammable tap water, huge ponds filled with radioactive wastewater, and massive chemical spills. Some residents have even found fracking chemicals and heavy metals in their blood.5

Accusations that Pennsylvania officials intentionally withheld evidence of water contamination from families impacted by fracking are the last straw.We don’t know if the DEP broke the law, but we do know that it failed to notify three families that their water had been contaminated by fracking. Pennsylvanians deserve a transparent investigation into the DEP’s water-testing procedures and a full explanation of why the DEP covered up evidence of fracking water contamination from impacted families.

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s coverup of fracking water contamination.

1. Don Hopey, “Lawmaker challenges Pennsylvania DEP’s reporting of gas well water safety,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 2, 2012
2. Jon Hurdle, “Pennsylvania Report Left Out Data on Poisons in Water Near Gas Site,”New York Times, November 2, 2012
3. Don Hopey, “Washington County families sue over fracking, water testing,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 26, 2012
4. Rachel Morgan, “Heavy metals: Study links water contamination to fracking,” Times Online, November 3, 2012
5. Mike Soraghan, “Two-thirds of frack disclosures omit ‘secrets,'” EnergyWire, September 26, 2012
6. Eliza Griswold, “The Fracturing of Pennsylvania,” New York Times, November 2011