Not So Lame
With more and more attention being eaten up by the quarreling over Iraq and the growing problems at the White House, it's easy to overlook what else is going on up on Capitol Hill. On Thursday it looked like House Republican leaders might be losing their control over their caucus as twenty-two House Repubs joined Dems in voting down a final House/Senate compromise bill for hundreds of millions of dollars of appropriations for Labor and Health and Human Services. Was this a mutiny by the moderates? Was it the beginning of the true consequences of a House leadership without the iron fist of Tom DeLay? Was the Prez's growing stature as a lame duck finally starting to affect his agenda in Congress? Progressives started to get their hopes up--maybe it was the beginning of the end of Republican budget cutting.
Alas, that was premature. Only a few hours later, the House passed huge cuts in safety-net programs. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities passed on a number of Congressional Budget Office projections concerning the bill:
CBO estimates that the provisions that will cause many low-income Medicaid beneficiaries to be required to pay more out-of-pocket for health care, and will reduce the health care services for which these beneficiaries are covered, represent cuts of nearly $30 billion over ten years.
. . .
CBO estimates that child support payments made by non-custodial parents would be $24 billion lower over ten years.
. . .
CBO estimates indicate that more than 220,000 people a month would lose food stamps; the large majority of these are people in low-income working families.
Once they'd secured these cuts in services, the Repubs had the good sense to delay their vote on extending tax cuts on dividends and capital gains. Rep. Peter King said they were worried "the Democrats are going to say we're cutting services for the poor and cutting taxes for the rich."
Those crazy Democrats. Why would they ever think something like that?