Last week, congressional Republicans responded to Hurricane Katrina by proposing to cut nearly a trillion dollars from vital national services, like health care for the poor and elderly, student loans, Amtrak, and eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.1
The cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast is far less than what President Bush has given away in tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent.2 National crises like Hurricanes Rita and Katrina are times for all Americans to stick together and put in our fair share.
The Republican proposal, titled "Operation Offset," was authored by the Republican Study Committee, a group of over 100 influential members of Congress, including powerful committee chairs and members of the Republican leadership.3 The proposal starts with support from at least these 100 representatives, and they are looking to quickly build momentum.
A full reconstruction of the Gulf Coast region is generally estimated to cost around $200 billion.4 We could more than meet this cost by rolling back Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for just the wealthiest one percent of the country, which would save us an estimated $327 billion.5
Here are just some of the cuts:
- $225 billion cut from Medicaid, the last-resort health insurance program for the very poor.
- $200 billion cut from Medicare, the health care safety net for the elderly and the disabled.
- $25 billion cut from the Centers for Disease Control
- $6.7 billion cut from school lunches for poor children
- $7.5 billion cut from programs to fight global AIDS
- $5.5 billion to eliminate all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- $3.6 billion cut to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities
- $8.5 billion cut to eliminate all subsidized loans to graduate students.
- $2.5 billion cut from Amtrak
- $2.5 billion to eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative
- $417 million cut to eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency
- $4.8 billion cut to eliminate all funding for the Safe and Drug-Free schools program
Just the stuff selected here, looking back at my own life, would have been devastating for me growing up, and even now. I wonder if I'd be more productive as an uneducated, hungry citizen, or as the doctoral student I'm currently enabled to be through the programs set up by the generous liberality of earlier governments. Has there ever been a time when you had more people so explicitly proclaiming their intention to mug and rape America for all she's worth? I really hope that the press is going to watch our backs on this one, and keeps trumpeting away about moves like this.