Sunday, November 20, 2005

republicans fiddle while Rome burns

Before getting into the cruel details of the budget cuts passed in the dark of night by our House of Representatives, let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.

This country is in a financial crisis for three major reasons.

First, we rushed to war in Iraq, without allies, and are now largely footing the $7 billion-a-month bill on our own. The war has proven far more costly in terms of human life than the Bush administration ever anticipated, and the financial cost of our extended occupation, now estimated at $220 billion, is crushing our government beneath a mountain of debt. And there’s no end in sight.

Second, we have suffered several massive natural disasters. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita brought almost unprecedented devastation to the Gulf Coast, Florida is still reeling from Wilma and these are just the three largest of the many "acts of God" that our government must spend billions of dollars to address. The price-tag for Katrina alone is $62 billion and growing. This one catastrophe will cost more than all the proposed spending cuts combined.

Third, and unlike the hurricanes because they are completely within our control, are the tax cuts the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have recklessly implemented over the past five years.

In 2004, according to the Center on Budget and Policy priorities, these tax cuts, that indisputably provide far greater relief to the wealthy than the middle class, accounted for half the budget deficit or about $235 billion. Both the House and Senate budget reconciliation plans contain proposals to extend these cuts beyond the Bush presidency.

The irony of the cuts proposed by both the House and Senate is that they are touted as necessary for reducing our budget deficit. However, when you combine the proposed spending cuts with the proposed tax cut extensions, the deficit actually increases.

"It is hard to rally support for a spending cut labeled the ‘Deficit Reduction Act of 2005’ when it will be followed by a tax cut that, by the same logic, should be labeled the ‘Deficit Increase Act of 2005,’" said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the nonpartisan Concord Coalition.

This budget fight is not, as the politicians would have you believe, about reducing the deficit. It is, instead, about Republicans, in the face of a massive runup in government spending, trying to look like they have a shred of fiscal responsibility by kicking around the poor.
And just out of curiosity let's see how our local Congresswoman voted.

FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 601

H R 4241 RECORDED VOTE 18-Nov-2005 1:41 AM
QUESTION: On Passage
BILL TITLE: Deficit Reduction Act

Hart - AYE

Well surprise, surprise, Melissa fell right in line with Republican leadership.

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