Thursday, September 22, 2005

Operation Offset

This is the Republican Study Committee's proposal as to how to fund the reconstruction necessary after hurricane Katrina by cutting other federal spending. The real objective is to save the tax cuts for the wealthy and the abolition of the federal estate tax on the inheritances the ultra-wealthy leave behind.

And who is to make the sacrifices instead of Bush's rich base? The elderly, on the whole. The Committee proposes delaying the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill by one year but making the elderly pay for it already by raising the premia as well as by more cost-sharing by the elderly who are unfortunate enough to be ill. Though to be fair to the wingnuts on this committee, they also propose eliminating and/or reducing everything else they happen to hate: The poor will pay more for their federally subsidized Medicaid program (but not the elderly whose nursing-home care is covered by Medicaid, too, as there are too many Republicans with a mom or a dad enjoying these benefits), foreing aid will be cut, including aid to the African continent (have you checked recently what percentage foreign aid is of the federal budget?), and naturally nothing should be given to the National Foundations of the Arts or the Humanities (girlyman stuff) or the Public Broadcasting System (commies!). Read the rest yourselves.

What I found intriguing were the reasons given for various cuts. The most common was the argument that a particular program duplicates the same services available elsewhere, but in several cases the justification was simply that the funding doesn't belong to the federal government. This one, for example, is funny:

Level Funding to Community Health Centers.

This reform would level funding for these federal grants to help medically underserved populations. These programs should be funded locally, not with federal dollars.

Hmm. Medically underserved populations live in inner-city ghettoes are far out in poor rural areas. Local funding?

Other funny justifications abound. Many programs trying to keep illegal drugs away from children are cut or offered reduced funding because studies do not support their efficacy. Yet I see no cuts in the abstinence programs which have been proven to be of very questionable efficacy. And the Legal Services Corporation should be eliminated because, among other things, it has provided "resources for individuals to sue the government for more generous federal benefits".

The problem in trying to pay for the reconstruction effort this way is that those who are going to pay are predominantly the elderly, the poor and various groups who don't carry enough votes to affect the next election. But this isn't a problem for the wingnuts on the Republican Study Committee; instead, it's another chance to forward the wingnut ideology. Operation Upset.

For an alternative proposal that might suit the Democrats, see Think Progress.