There's a new 'triad' in DC. This 'gang of 3' makes the Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood lore look like the tooth fairy. Fresh to the GOP leadership 'trough' -- the new House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Rep. Paul Ryan are eager to prove their political gonads. (Like the debacle in the GOP led Florida legislature -- where the term 'uterus' is now banned -- I felt the need to use the male term for the source of their inflated -- 'AUDACITY').
This group of GOP legislative miscreants in the House of Representatives have decided unilaterally to dismantle the sole remnants of The New Deal -- namely Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They are proposing a radical budget deal which will reduce the funding for each program and send the majority of monies to each individual state as a 'block grant.' These GOP hangmen are proposing this type of change as a way to address soaring budget deficits. The fact that our present economic crisis can be traced directly back to the excesses of the Robber Barons of Wall Street does not matter -- Boehner, Cantor and Ryan have rewritten 'the rules' of the game in a perfect fit -- for a Dickens novel.
Majority Leader Cantor 'Rewrites' the Constitution....
Majority Leader Eric Cantor was recently quoted in the Washington Post, claiming that House Republicans don't need the Senate or the President to enact new laws, as he was explaining the "Government Shutdown Prevention Act" aka. H.R. 1.
"What this bill says is it reiterates again the deadline, and that the Senate should act before the deadline, and that's what the American people are expecting." "The bill then says if the Senate does not act, then H.R. 1 (the House passed version cutting 61 billion) WILL BE THE LAW OF THE LAND. In addition to that, it says that if all else fails, and the Senate brings about a shutdown, then members should not get their pay."
Now, the missing piece to this symbolic game of legislative 'chicken' lies in the fact that no legislation (including H.R. 1) ever becomes law without approval of the Senate and the President. Somehow this simple point eluded this George Washington University grad -- the same legislator who bragged about new House rules which REQUIRE any bill introduced for consideration to have a virtual certificate of 'constitutional authority." According to the new House Rules written by GOP leaders (presumably this includes Cantor); any bill introduced for consideration must include a statement for the Congressional Record by the sponsor, "citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress" REQUIRED to make the bill law. The Memo CLEARLY states that "any bill filed without the requisites constitutional authority statement will not be accepted by the House Clerk and will be returned to the sponsor."
Forget the fact that this 'symbolic' legislation represents an end run around the very constitution Cantor and comrades profess to serve -- he can't even seem to keep track of his earlier 'proclamations' regarding constitutionality. Keep in mind this is the same group of House members who DEMAND that the Constitution be read each time they meet -- like 'cafeteria Catholics' -- they pick and choose the rules most convenient for their own purposes. I'm sure Cantor realizes H.R. 1 will go nowhere -- but once again -- his political 'gonads' overruled any sense of intellectual honesty. Now that the stage has been set, Cantor goes out on the road to 'sell' this legislative 'snake-oil.'
Cantor makes the rounds of the 'mainstream ' Media ...
Cantor flatly proclaimed to Fox News' Chris Wallace that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security... 'AREN'T GOING TO BE THERE' by the time he retires. Qualifying the plan to dismantle these programs Cantor added that "What we (House Republicans) have said is this : We'll protect today's seniors and those nearing retirement, but for the rest of us, all of us, I know the programs are not going to be there for me when I retire." Cantor also told NPR that our country's most respected entitlement programs were not going to survive the GOP's axemen. Pontificating on the political correctness of his proclamation, "We're going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be."
House Majority Leader Cantor... a founding member of the 'too big to fail' bailout chorus...
Hypocritically speaking, this is the SAME Rep. Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader who was a leading proponent of the banking BAILOUT bill -- you know -- the 'TOO BIG TO FAIL' caucus. There should be no great surprise to find that Cantor's top industry political 'contributors' are real estate, insurance and securities/investments. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, some 1.8 million dollars of campaign funds have come from these sources, from the time he first ran for Congress in 2000 till September of 2008. In fact, according to the Sunlight Foundation, Cantor has received some $951,574 in campaign donations from the very insurance industry which stands to (pardon the pun)... 'make a killing' on our nation's seniors once Medicare is destroyed.
Subsequently, it should not shock any of us that Cantor fails to explain WHY and HOW this problem developed beyond the same tired, cliched slogans. His comments are minus any sourcing -- we are just expected to believe him.
Rep. Paul Ryan's 'Path to Prosperity' ...by impoverishing the rest of us...
Rep. Paul Ryan is the GOP Chair of the U.S. House Budget Committee, and as such wields the 'power of the pocket-book.' He authored the GOP plan to destroy Medicare, Medicaid and eventually -- Social Security which he peevishly titled -- Path to Prosperity. In another political life, Ryan was also a vocal supporter of the 2008, 800 BILLION DOLLAR WALL STREET BAILOUT. He became such a bailout booster that it earned him a place in Michael Moore's documentary -- Capitalism : A Love Story. Then came the Tea Party's angry stance on the bank bailout -- and Ryan, like the proverbial reformed alcoholic, saw the political light -- sobered up and reinvented himself as 'the defender' of fiscal responsibility.
Ryan's Logic -- a non-starter...
Rep. Ryan wrote a now infamous op-ed in the Wall Street Journal explaining his position.
To quote Ryan...
"No one person or party is responsible for the looming crisis."
REALLY?! So, the 800 BILLION DOLLAR Wall Street Bailout, accompanied by virtually no reinvestment into the job market -- had nothing to do with our present economic Titanic? Rep. Ryan continues to state that ..."Major spending increases have failed to deliver promised jobs. The safety net for the poor is coming apart at the seams. Government health and retirement programs are growing at unsustainable rates. The new health-care law is a fiscal train wreck. And a complex, inefficient tax code is holding back American families and businesses."
Later Ryan specifies that... "The open-ended, blank-check nature of the Medicare subsidy threatens the solvency of this critical program and creates inexcusable levels of waste." He then explains some delightful double-speak as he declares that the new program ..."is not a voucher program but rather a premium-support model." Voucher program vs. premium-support model... 'Potaato -- Potato, the effect is the same, namely the privatization of Medicare using inadequate vouchers. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, seniors will pay some 68% of their own healthcare costs by 2030. (Source: ) Ryan then touches upon the need to 'reform' Social Security in ..."order to prevent severe cuts to future benefits." After the mere mention, Ryan symbolically 'leaves the room,'and -- again we are urged to 'trust him.'
The 800 BILLION DOLLAR ELEPHANT in the room...the 2008 Wall Street Bailout...
Frankly there are so many problems with Ryan's faulty and dishonest analysis that I'm not sure where to start. First of all, the major spending increases Ryan refers to is mainly the 800 BILLION DOLLAR ELEPHANT in the room -- namely the 2008 Wall Street Bailout. The bailout DID fail to produce jobs, but the fault lies not with the idea of government spending -- but with the thieving recipients themselves. Wall Street has to date utterly failed to provide any reasonable levels of accountability or transparency regarding the taxpayer monies they 'appropriated' with their able congressional lapdogs. There has even been a critically acclaimed film on the subject, aptly titled Inside Job. Boehner, Cantor and Ryan should go see it -- I'll even spring for popcorn.
Uncontrolled Military Spending... Another Cause of the Financial Meltdown...
The other unmentioned cause of our financial ruin is the bloated military budget. According to the National Priorities Project the cost of war is ruinous, both financially and morally. The total cost of war in Iraq and Afghanistan (minus Libya) is over $1, 179,561,000 with the counter constantly ticking. (THATS OVER ONE TRILLION DOLLARS PEOPLE). We have spent in excess of 784 BILLION in Iraq and 394 BILLION in Afghanistan. The National Priorities Project includes a 'trade-off' counter, where you can see what the same monies can buy domestically on things other than war. For instance, if we traded off the proposed Afghanistan war spending for 2011 -- we would have enough money to provide some 55 MILLION CHILDREN with Low-Income Healthcare for a year.
When you begin talking about military expenditures in the TRILLIONS, for a war in Iraq, despite the fact that Iraq had NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11, and a war in Afghanistan against a stone age society in a feckless effort to find a band of pirates with Bin Laden at the helm -- you are either staring at gross political incompetence or the biggest bank robbery of the millennium. One thing I forgot to mention -- Ryan's 'Path to Prosperity' leaves military spending totally intact.
Ryan's Issue with the 'Medicare subsidy'...
Next, the issue of the 'Medicare subsidy,' is lumped together with Social Security 'reform' as the other major cause of our looming financial crash. Furthermore, Ryan places the Medicaid program under 'welfare reform,' yet according to Ezra Klein at the Washington Post, some 67% of all Medicaid payments are for seniors and disabled persons, not welfare recipients, in spite of the fact that the combined number of seniors and disabled constitute a mere 25% of Medicaid's members. Klein adds that since Medicaid is 20% cheaper than most private insurance plans, replacing Medicaid with block grants is designed to reduce benefits and eligibility, leaving the claim of reduced costs to the taxpayers totally disingenuous.
Ryan continues on the 'virtue' of the plan as he explains how the GOP will help all of us trim our fiscal waistlines -- through starvation.
The GOP 'targets corporate welfare?'
Ryan's plan emphasizes the elimination of corporate welfare as we know it. I believe Ryan and the GOP would love to rid our country of low and middle income homeownership. While it is acknowledged that home loans were made to applicants which would not have qualified in more fiscally cautious times -- those loans were made and pushed by lending institutions practically wetting their financial panties -- over the 'homeowner revolving door.' Simply put, the bank pushes a loan using numbers which are pure fiction to qualify a prospective applicant on a loan which this same bank KNOWS will never be repaid.
In theory, once Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac monies are used to subsidize these loans -- the foreclosure process is only a matter of time. The lending institution can then 'sell' the bad defaulted loans, keep the property in question and resell it to another financially unfit applicant. In truth, the banks aren't in the home loan business, they are in the 'foreclosure and resell the same property in a vicious cycle' business. Some of the more politically aware Attorney General's in various states would simply call it -- LOAN SHARKING AND FRAUD.
"Our budget TARGETS CORPORATE WELFARE, starting by ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that is costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. It gets rid of the permanent Wall Street bailout authority that Congress created last year. ..."Ryan calls this 'targeting corporate welfare.' I call it meager 'cover' for crimes against the taxpayers.
The GOP's plan to destroy Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security has been heralded in the mainstream media as 'serious' and 'responsible.' Nothing could be further from the truth. This plan financially eviscerates the only health coverage available to all aged 65 or over. Without the public accountability which can be demanded of a public plan such as Medicare and the combined public investment -- most seniors will find themselves with a dire choice, whether to pay for private coverage which will take some 70% of their social security checks and eat catfood -- or die early from denial of medical care. To blame our nation's financial troubles on these entitlement programs which all of us have paid into -- is the height of hypocrisy when faced with the plain truth of Wall Street thievery as widely documented in films such as Capitalism: A Love Story and Inside Job. To relegate the nation's seniors, the very people who raised political brats like John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor, to a system of 'medical apartheid' or face hunger and homelessness in an attempt to pay for private insurance... is patently evil.
When Eric Cantor proclaimed that these programs cannot exist ..."if we want America to be what we want America to be;" I wondered what kind of America Cantor and the GOP envisioned. I never imagined they would be so cold blooded as to envision an America with seniors having to choose between paying medical insurance premiums or eating.