WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday passed its plan to spare the military’s growing budget from mandatory cuts, instead slashing Medicaid, benefits for federal workers and programs to help feed hungry Americans.
The House drew up the “reconciliation budget” in hopes of heading off automatic cuts mandated in last summer’s deal to raise the nation’s debt limit. Under that deal, $1.2 trillion must be “sequestered” — that is, cut — from the budget over the next 10 years, with about half coming from the military. Such reductions would still allow the defense budget to grow by 20 percent.
The House GOP plan passed 218 to 199, with 16 Republicans and all Democrats voting no. It replaces about $100 billion in the mandatory cuts next year and more than $300 billion over the next decade.
Rather than decrease military spending, the plan reduces projected outlays elsewhere. The proposal, which emerged from the House Budget Committee chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Monday, would cut $83 billion in federal retirement benefits (equivalent to about a 5 percent pay cut), save $49 billion by capping medical malpractice lawsuits, slash about $48 billion from Medicaid programs and cut food aid by more than $36 billion.
“I am so sick and tired of the demonization of programs that benefit poor people in this country, especially the [food stamp] program,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) during the floor debate, noting that food stamps provide $1.50 per meal. “This is not some extravagant, overly generous benefit,” he added. “Rather than cutting waste in the Pentagon budget, which we all know exists, you protect the Pentagon budget. You know, rather than going after subsidies for oil companies and going after billionaire tax breaks, you protect all that.”
Rather than cut our bloated defense budget or consider raising taxes on the wealthy, Paul Ryan’s budget slashes billions from Medicaid and other social programs. Under the Ryan plan hundreds of thousands of children will be cut from the school lunch program and will lose their health insurance. 22 million households will lose food aid at a time when more and more families are struggling to put food on the table. “Let’s get back to the idea of America as an opportunity society,” says Ryan, who feels that cutting these programs will help the poor by reducing their dependency on social welfare programs. In his opinion, it isn’t the recession that has dramatically increased the need for food stamps and other types of aid. It is, once again, the fault of the poor, who suckle from the teat of the government just because they can. We feed the war machine by taking food from the mouths of babes, then blame them for being hungry.