I want my country back
How bad was the House Republican budget plan crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan? It was so bad that even Rep. Mike Ross voted against it. But outrage has been in short supply.
Arkansas's Republican representatives, — Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack — seem positively proud of their vote to lavish a 28 percent top-dollar income tax on the richest Americans while gutting Medicaid and essentially ending Medicare.
Griffin, battle hardened in the Karl Rove attack machine, is nothing if not sensitive to how adept sloganeering can influence public opinion. He and other House Republicans seem to be convinced that the public's newfound budgeting ardor is so great people will be oblivious to the fallout. They sense the Republicans' great chance to break the historic government social contract with the American people and put the savings in millionaires' pockets.
Griffin is so sure of the power of the Tea Party's words — taxes and spending must be cut; defenders of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are deadbeats addicted to unearned "entitlements" — that we were treated to a Twilight Zone photo op last week. Griffin, son of a Head Start teacher, made sure TV cameras were on hand at a local Head Start center where he read a book to cute kids and then proudly said, in so many words, that if it came down to tax breaks for millionaires versus cutting Head Start, he'd cut Head Start. The problem is not revenue, but spending, he said. False economy is no obstacle.
A Republican freeze of Medicaid spending will drive truckloads of the old and sick out of hospitals and nursing homes.
Griffin and Co. also want to eventually end Medicare. Instead, future generations would get a promise from the government of a health insurance subsidy to take to profiteering private insurance companies. With an additional $6,000 or so, you might be able to buy insurance — if the insurance companies wanted to cover you and you could afford it.
Griffin's assertion that the plan preserves Medicare is a big lie, one of many. The plan also is built on a fairy tale assumption of the U.S. jobless rate dropping below 3 percent. It makes unrealistic assumptions on tax revenues, particularly given the proposals to cut the income tax on the wealthy and end taxation entirely on dividends and capital gains.
Ryan's cheerleaders tell us that the tax breaks for the wealthy would be offset by closure of loopholes. They've specified none. But we know from past experience that things like the Earned Income Tax Credit (in which working poor get back some of their payroll taxes) are what Republicans consider a loophole.
Another big lie is Republicans' supposed courage in spending cuts. Some bravery. Most of the pain will be felt by the sick, poor and elderly. Ryan claims a cut in defense spending, but even conservative analysts contend this is just a bookkeeping ruse. Overall military spending will still rise, but domestic spending will get a chainsaw massacre, particularly programs Republicans don't like. Birth control pills, for example. Environmental protection, for another.
The details don't seem to matter. Where's the outrage over Griffin's peacock strut at the Head Start center?
Ryan himself did have to endure one contentious town hall meeting. A round of these, with plenty of YouTube support, like the summer of the Tea Party, could do a world of good. If only there were some liberal Kochs out there to finance a campaign on the other side of their greedy agenda.