Moral Low Ground

US Government

House GOP Budget To Eviscerate Poor to Benefit Military-Industrial Complex

House Republicans forwarded a budget bill which slashes $261 billion from essential social services in order to avoid more than $50 billion in military spending cuts slated to take effect next year.

The New York Times reports that the House Budget Committee combined budget bills passed by six different committees, rolled them into one package and sent it to the full House where it awaits a full vote on Thursday.

Although the measure has no chance of making it passed the Senate, the alarming budget is further proof that maintaining a massive military budget is more important to Republicans than helping the most vulnerable Americans survive these trying economic times.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the GOP bill would strip 1.8 million hungry Americans of their food stamps, end school lunch subsidies for 280,000 children from low-income families and cost 300,000 children their health insurance.

Social services block grants to state and local governments would suffer, as would child abuse prevention programs, Meals on Wheels food assistance (which greatly benefits many home-bound elderly Americans), and child care programs.

In dollar terms, $23.5 billion would be cut from Medicaid and children’s health programs, $4.2 billion would be stripped from hospitals that provide life-saving care to the poor and uninsured and an alarming $33.7 billion from food stamps.

“We talk about values,” Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) told the Times in an attempt to explain the drastic cuts that would affect the neediest among us. “Deficit spending is not a value,” he added, referring to the $1.33 trillion US deficit.

“Deficit spending is going to bankrupt our children,” he added.

But what Flores failed to mention is that the proposed GOP budget is designed not to greatly reduce the deficit but rather to shift spending cuts from the military to social programs.

Indeed, fully a quarter of all the proposed spending cuts in the GOP measure would come from slashing anti-poverty spending.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), said her Republican colleagues were “socking it to children, older Americans and disabled Americans” and going “for the jugular.”

Indeed, many groups traditionally concerned about the welfare of the needy have slammed the Republican budget proposal as proof of a conservative “war on the poor.”

The US Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), for example, called the cuts  “a direct threat to… human dignity” and expressed concern for the welfare of “the homeless, the elderly, people with disabilities, children living in poverty, and abuse victims,” all of whom would suffer as a result of the proposed cuts.

“Congress should assess every budget decision by how it reflects the shared responsibility of the government and other institutions to protect human life and dignity, especially of the poor and vulnerable,” USCCB said in a statement.

The group added that the proposed cuts are nothing short of “immoral.”

How did America get to this point?

Last summer, the impasse known as the debt ceiling crisis was temporarily resolved when Republicans agreed to raise the government’s borrowing limit in return for a reduction in the deficit of $1.2 trillion over ten years. That reduction was supposed to be worked out by a special select committee, which couldn’t come to an agreement by last November. That, in turn, triggered an automatic across-the-board trillion-dollar cut in military and social spending.

Now House Republicans are attempting to avoid the mandated military spending cuts by transferring budget reductions from defense to poverty alleviation programs, which would benefit the military-industrial complex but harm working-class and poor Americans, further widening the yawning gap between rich and poor Americans.


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