Thursday, June 9, 2011

Susan Bruce's Column for 6.10.11

Guinta, Bass, and the Ryan Plan 

Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin came up with a budget plan that was applauded by his Teabaglican pals in the US House. NH Congressman Charlie Bass got behind it. Congressman Frank Guinta first complained that it didn’t cut enough – but then he got behind it, too. Senator Kelly Ayotte announced that if the Ryan plan came for a vote before the Senate, she’d support it. Then everything started to unravel, as more and more detail about the Ryan budget surfaced. 

Republican economist Mark Zandi found that the Ryan budget would eliminate 1.7 million jobs in the first two years. Economists across the political spectrum warned that the Ryan plan would set back the long-term growth and competitiveness of the US economy. The Ryan plan makes deep cuts to education, training, science and technology R&D, and transportation infrastructure investment. One can see how this would further the “American exceptionalism” that these folks love to get all weepy about. A country with crumbling infrastructure, falling behind in science and technology, while cutting over a million jobs could only be described as exceptional. 

Oh, but wait! There’s more. The Ryan plan also calls for turning Medicare into a voucher program. Those folks currently aged 55 or older would continue to get Medicare, as we know it. Everyone else would get a voucher from Medicare to buy private insurance from the many companies who are just dying to get in on insuring senior citizens. As insurance costs continue to rise, seniors would be paying the difference themselves, from their Social Security pension, which would also be privatized under the Ryan Plan. The vouchers would not increase to meet rising health costs. None of the doughty Republicans are using the term “rationing” or even “death panels,” though certainly both would apply. 

Charlie Bass supports this plan to eliminate Medicare. He’s awfully upset though, that his support for a voucher program is being called support for a voucher program.  A couple of groups paid for a TV ad that criticizes Bass’s support for the voucher program. In the ad, a former Bass supporter talks about what the changes in Medicare would mean to her family. The National Republican Congressional Committee tried to get the ad pulled off the airwaves, claiming it was a misrepresentation of the truth. The ad stayed. It’s the truth that Charlie Bass wishes to conceal. He’s not brave enough to stand up and tell the truth about what he’s supporting. His favorability ratings in NH CD-2 are at 29%. 

Frank Guinta also supports this plan. At his recent town hall meetings, he’s pointed out that this won’t apply to anyone over the age of 55, as if that makes him some sort of hero. There is no thought given to those who lost their savings when the economy tanked, no thought given to those older folks who lost their jobs, and still can’t find work, or are still underemployed. It would at least be honest if Frank and Charlie suggested rebuilding the poor houses we once had for the state’s future senior citizens. 

Meanwhile, the US House continues to run much the same way the NH House is running, on the premise that cutting spending and revenue will magically restore our economy. Even though those spending cuts are eliminating jobs, the magic GOP budgets will make everything okay. All we need to do is destroy Medicare and Social Security and that will fix everything. Just don’t ask them to stop borrowing money to fund tax cuts for billionaires, or to stop borrowing to fund the many wars we’re currently embroiled in. 

The Pentagon is the biggest entitlement program and none of the budget peacocks have any intention of doing anything about it. As I’ve pointed out before, the Pentagon can’t pass an audit, and can’t account for trillions of dollars. One would think that our deficit talkers would find that unconscionable. One would be wrong. There is no talk of making the Pentagon accountable. The only talk is of shoveling more money at them, and continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Every dollar we spend on war is a dollar we aren’t investing in the future of the nation. It’s a borrowed dollar at that – so it’s part of the debt we’ll be leaving our children. These Teabaglicans would further impoverish senior citizens, and rob them of health care to line the pockets of their friends in the insurance industry and Wall St. At the same time, they are desperate to keep on funding the tax cuts for the wealthy, since they themselves benefit from them of course, as do their donors. 

Charlie Bass voted for every bloated Bush defense budget. He voted for every bloated military appropriations bill. He also voted seven times to increase the debt ceiling. Now, suddenly, he wishes to be seen as Mr. Fiscal Responsibility?  The Republican facility for rewriting history is truly a wonder to behold. Or, as Sarah Palin might say, “Ring, Ring, Kaboom!” 

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