Chaos in the House on budget bill | Arkansas Blog

Chaos in the House on budget bill



Wild development in the U.S. House today (link corrected) on budget legislation.

Democrats voted present, rather than voting, on the draconian House budget plan, leaving the Republicans to decide on that plan or an even more ruthless plan preferred by the Tea Party end of the Republican contingent.

The more radical bill — steeper spending cuts and even bigger tax breaks for the wealthy — barely failed as Republicans jumped to vote against rather than be hung with the consequences. U.S. Rep. Mike Ross voted present. Republican Reps. Tim Griffin, Steve Womack and Rick Crawford voted against the deeper spending cuts and bigger tax break.

Then came the vote on the Ryan budget itself, the main event of the day. It passed 235-193. This bill, though not Tea Party strength, remained a bill to soak the poor, enrich the wealthy and destroy Medicare.

Arkansas Republicans all voted for it, naturally — Reps. Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack. Two of them might rue the day. We long ago abandoned hope for the 3rd District.

But, it's a signature day. Nominal Democrat Mike Ross voted with Democrats today, against a plan which he said, correctly, would privatize Medicare. It would turn federal health care money over to private insurance companies to plunder at the expense of the sick elderly. The good news is that a Democratic firebreak still exists in the Senate to protect the endangered.

Said Rick Crawford: "...we need to quit mortgaging our children’s future and give them the fiscally stable country they deserve." Old folks? Screw 'em.

Tim Griffin went with the Republican slogan "Path to Prosperity" and claimed he'd saved Medicare rather than wrecked it.

For his rare good vote, let's let Ross talk about it (and following the Democratic Party frames the Republican vote):

U.S. Congressman Mike Ross of Prescott today voted against a Republican budget proposal, H. Con. Res. 34, that would privatize Medicare and dramatically alter Medicaid affecting low-income seniors. The bill, authored and presented by the Republican Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, passed the U.S. House of Representatives and must now be considered by the Senate. The proposal sets federal spending levels for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2011.

“We need to cut spending, but I will not vote for any budget that punishes seniors in the process,” said Ross. “The Ryan Plan doesn’t save Medicare — it dismantles the program for future beneficiaries and shifts the costs onto the backs of our seniors who did nothing to get us into this mess in the first place. The Republicans tried to privatize Social Security under President Bush and now they’re trying to do the same with Medicare. I made a pledge to my constituents that I would fight to protect Social Security and Medicare and voting for this bill would have violated that pledge.”

The Ryan Plan privatizes Medicare by dismantling the program for future beneficiaries and then using the funds for vouchers to purchase private health insurance. The vouchers would be tied to inflation, while health care costs skyrocket at twice the rate of inflation, forcing seniors to pay more and more for health care. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that under the current Medicare system, a typical 65-year-old Medicare beneficiary in 2022 would only pay $6,150 a year in out-of-pocket health care spending. Under the Ryan Plan, a beneficiary’s share in 2022 would more than double to $12,510 per year.[1]

“Deficit spending must be stopped, but it should be done in a way that is fair to all,” said Ross. “These vouchers will force seniors to buy private health insurance when, because of their age, it is often very difficult for the elderly to find insurance that is both affordable and adequate. That’s exactly why Medicare was created and why it must be preserved — so that seniors can live long, healthy lives.”

Ross also said the Ryan Plan will actually continue to add to the national debt.

“The Ryan Plan ignores our nation’s fundamental and long-term deficit spending problem. In fact, this plan actually adds $5 trillion to the deficit over the next decade,” said Ross.[2] “We need a bipartisan, commonsense budget proposal that stops deficit spending and is fair to our troops, children, working families, seniors and veterans. That’s why as a leader of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, I will keep working to rally support behind our Benchmarks for Fiscal Reform — an aggressive set of targets for long-term fiscal reform and deficit reduction that includes cutting the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, with the largest deficit cuts in history by 2014. The American people deserve a serious and honest conversation about our budget and that is my goal.”


Today, Representative Tim Griffin (AR-02) voted to end Medicare. Griffin chose to end Medicare and ask seniors to pay more than $12,500 for health care instead of ending taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil companies making record profits or repeal tax breaks for the ultra rich.

“Representative Tim Griffin voted to end Medicare and raise health care costs for Arkansas seniors,” said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “While Representative Tim Griffin wouldn’t touch taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil companies and tax breaks for the ultra rich, he sold out Arkansas seniors by ending Medicare and leaving them with the bill.”

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