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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Repubs cut Medicaid, Medicare as Christmas present to America

This morning, the Senate gave (almost) final passage to the Budget Reconciliation bill, S.1932. The M$M (MSNBC and CNN for two) buy into the Republican spin and report the that the bill cuts about $40B in benefits over the next 5 years, from programs such as Medicare and Medicaid (side note - how much will this cost state governments?) - resulting, as they report, in a deficit reduction. MSNBC - Senate OKs bill to cut deficit with Cheney’s help; CNN (more accurate headline) - Senate cuts government benefits :
In the final clashes of a year of partisan conflict .... Republicans salvaged a $39.7 billion package of deficit cuts on Vice President Dick Cheney's tie-breaking vote.

But Senator Kent Conrad, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, tells us the real deal, with charts:
I would just like to make one final point, then we'd be happy to take your questions. As I indicated, there are three chapters to this reconciliation book. You have to read all three chapters before you can reach conclusion on what the book means. The first chapter cuts $40 billion of spending over five years. The second chapter cuts taxes $70 billion over the same period. So the combined effect of chapters one and two is to increase the deficit, not reduce it. The third chapter is really the chapter our Republican friends don't want the American people to read. The third chapter of this book increases the debt of our country in one fell swoop by $781 billion, one of the biggest increases in debt in the history of America. That is the package they have before our country. It's the wrong priorities. It does not represent the values of the American people.

I'm a little unclear on whether parts 2 and 3 are in the current bill, or Conrad's is just reading from the Repubs published plan. In any case, one might think that rescinding $40B of tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 % would be preferable to denying medical assistance to the poor and aged. But hey, it's Christmas, and what would Christmas be without someone playing the part of Scrtooge?

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