The House Republican budget and the Senate Democratic budget have recently been released. Both purport to reduce the deficit, but in very different ways. When you compare them, it’s quite interesting.
The Democratic budget seeks to close loopholes in everyone’s taxes to save $975 billion, cut $265 billion in Medicare waste and cut $10 billion in Medicaid waste. It also seeks to improve health care (for everyone) and improve Social Security. It seeks to cut $240 billion in Pentagon waste and $142 billion in domestic program waste, while spending $100 billion on new energy options, worker training, infrastructure, transportation and schools.
On the other hand, the Republican budget does seek to close some loopholes and deductions in taxes, turn Medicare into a voucher system, and turn programs designed to help the poor, disabled and seniors in nursing homes over to the states. It also seeks to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act and require Congress and the White House to find ways to reduce Social Security. It seeks to continue the blank check given to the Pentagon without any cuts at all, while supporting the development of the Keystone XL pipeline and all new drilling proposals.
The Democratic budget addresses the needs of both the rich and poor, recognizes our need to stop trying to unilaterally police the world (which has recently cost us trillions of dollars and left us $15 trillion in debt), and addresses our need for sustainable energy and better educational opportunities.
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The Republican budget continues to give even more advantages to the rich, while eliminating most of the needed supports for the poor and elderly. It supports unlimited military spending, while turning a blind eye to sustainable energy concerns and our massive training and educational needs.
Many of my Republican friends always respond with disgust when anyone expresses compassion that would lead to helping the poor or elderly in any way. I don’t know where this comes from. Clearly the Founding Fathers meant for the government to seek the health and welfare of all or its citizens just as much as defending them. Clearly our religions (whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or other) call for us to be careful about hoarding money while ignoring the poor and needy. They teach us humility, compassion, sharing and a sense of justice. Yet the Republican budget gives every advantage and encouragement to the rich while ignoring the crying needs of the poor.
Their budget also ignores the fact that we cannot afford to have over 700 military bases all over the world. We cannot afford to fight ill-advised wars far from our shores. Eisenhower warned of the Military Industrial Complex taking us over, and it has. We must cut military spending not to jeopardize our security, but to save it.
The Republican budget also ignores (as do many Republicans) the obvious evidence for global warming. It ignores all of our air, water, sea and land pollution as well as the needs of the world’s ecosystems. It also ignores the collapse our infrastructure and schools, and the need for training people to face new and changing job markets.
Coddling the rich and bashing the poor, ignoring military waste, and hiding from all the new environmental and educational concerns is no way to write a budget. The Democratic budget is far from perfect, but it’s head and shoulders above this other one.
The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.