Thursday, January 24, 2013

GOP Government Shutdown Plan

House Republicans set their extortion calendar. Jonathan Weisman's story today about yesterday's House vote to suspend enforcement of the debt ceiling until May 18 lays out how the government-shutdown thrill ride will proceed in the coming months. The good news is that we will be spared this frontpage-hog for the remainder of the month and all of February. Then March 1 "$110 billion in across-the-board spending cuts to military and domestic programs — known as a sequester — will go into force."
The next real showdown will come by March 27, when the stopgap measure financing the government expires. Republicans have made clear that they are willing to let the government shut down at that time to force deep spending cuts or changes to Medicare and Social Security that would bring down deficits in the long run.
Included in the debt-ceiling suspension is a provision to "withhold the pay of lawmakers in a chamber of Congress that fails to pass a budget blueprint by April 15." This is aimed at Senate Democrats who have not passed a budget since 2009.

The GOP design here is to get the Senate to produce a budget that can be reconciled in conference with the Ryan Plan, a.k.a., "The Path to Prosperity," and inflict as much damage as possible on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We're talking about the block granting of Medicaid; the privatizing of Medicare and raising its eligibility age; and while Ryan changed his tune and now calls for no changes in Social Security, Boehner sought a chained CPI in the recent fiscal cliff negotiations, and privatization remains the Republican Holy Grail. And what Boehner is talking about, a balanced budget over the next ten years, is actually much worse than the Ryan Plan, which doesn't balance the budget until 2040. This is from today's lead unsigned editorial in the New York Times:
If the House actually wants to put forth a balanced budget over the next 10 years, as Mr. Boehner vowed to do on Wednesday, let the public see what that really means: unimaginable cuts and changes to Medicare and Medicaid, and the elimination of scores of popular and vital programs that benefit both the poor and the middle class. Up to now, Republicans have been understandably wary of specifying how that would be done without raising taxes. Mitt Romney wouldn’t do it, and even Representative Paul Ryan’s budgets up to now wouldn’t balance the budget until 2040.

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