The first salvo of the battle for the budget was thrown yesterday at the House of Representatives, with a horrific budget plan. The proposal is to balance the budget by sacrificing programs for the poorest, cutting taxes, increasing defense spending, and – again – repealing Obamacare.
This is a draft that is expected to be voted shortly on the lower House, and it would serve as a guideline to work on a federal budget that should be approved by October. Usually the negotiations bring about substantial changes between the draft and the final budget. However, in view of the intransigence of the Republican congressmen in the recent past, it is not expected to change much. And that is a problem.
The goal is to reduce the deficit through draconian cuts in the programs that make up the social safety net, like Medicaid and food stamps. As if cuts were not enough, it proposes to turn both programs into a package of subsidies to be managed at the states’ whim.
On social spending, this draft honors previous agreements on cuts. On defense, it does fulfill the letter, but not the spirit of the agreements. It proposes a special fund of $40 billion, making the military the only area with actual spending increases.
The draft is clear in how to cut money for the poor. From health to education, cuts are everywhere. What’s confusing is how it takes into account a series of vaguely explained tax cuts, as well as, absurdly, the repeal of Obamacare, a health coverage plan which has enrolled millions.
The spending plan does not consider the need for investment in material and human infrastructure; on the contrary, it decreases it. And their desire to reduce the deficit does not prevent them from proposing tax cuts that been proven to increase the deficit.
This draft is an ideological exercise of the Republican leadership that will gain the support of its most conservative faction. But the closer they get to them the more removed they are from the reality of the American people.