Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Merry Christmas from Scrooge McCheney and the GOP!
The Scrooge cut short his Middle East tour to serve as the tiebreaker on a noxious budget bill that pretends to reduce the deficit by slashing programs for the poor and elderly.
The legislation would allow states to impose new fees on Medicaid recipients, cut federal child support enforcement funds, impose new work requirements on state welfare programs and squeeze student lenders.
Hey, but at least we are finally getting some fiscal discipline, right? Wrong.
According to budget experts, the bill would barely dent the federal deficit, cutting less than one-half of 1 percent from an estimated $14.3 trillion in federal spending over the next five years.
And what is worse is that the projected $40 billion in savings over five years has already been wiped out by the $56 billion worth of tax cuts that Republicans pushed through earlier this year.
Opponents of the bill, including all Democrats and five honest Republicans, said “the poor would bear the brunt of the cuts -- especially to Medicaid, child support enforcement and foster care -- whereas original targets for belt-tightening, such as pharmaceutical companies and private insurers, largely escaped sanction.”
Under the provision, student loan interest rates would be locked in at 6.8 percent and could not be refinanced as commercial rates fluctuate.
"They could give students a lower interest rate, but their choice is to keep interest rates high," said Luke Swarthout of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "They're asking students to pay for tax cuts."