Monday, February 1, 2010

The Daily Strike-2/1/10-More on the Budget

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Make sure you catch up on the week in politics in this morning's Weekly Strike, which is below.

BUDGET: We talked about the President's budget this morning. But little did I know, the Republicans have released a budget of their own. The ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has written a budget that actually eliminates the deficit and projects long-term budget surpluses. The way he does this is, well, absolutely insane. Ryan proposes privatizing Medicare and Social Security, and giving seniors vouchers to buy private insurance. The vouchers, though, will grow far slower than projected health care costs. In other words, we would be drastically cutting health benefits to future seniors. In fact, as Ezra Klein points out, it's not the privatization that saves money, it's that Ryan would have the government impose strict cost controls on health care.

This budget proposal teaches us three things. For one, the Republican party's policy proposals are extremely dangerous. They would do violence to what remains of our social safety net. Second, all the Republican rhetoric about how Democrats were cutting Medicare in the health care bill were disingenuous at best. Democrats would have enacted modest cost controls in Medicare that independent analysts said would not effect benefits. Ryan's budget would end Medicare as we know it. This is proof once again that Republicans are willing to do or say anything for their own political benefit. Third, when politicians of either party grandstand about "cutting the deficit" and "balancing the budget," they never explain exactly what they would do. Ryan's budget proposal is what ACTUAL deficit reduction looks like without raising taxes. At the very least, Ryan is being honest.

And finally, we're reminded that even though we may be disappointed with President Obama and Democrats in Congress, we are reminded of what could potentially happen with Republicans in power.

THE SENATE: The Senate voted this evening to cut off debate on the nomination of Patricia Smith to be Solicitor at the Department of Labor. Smith's nomination had been held up by Republicans due to their worries about her work as New York's Labor Commissioner. The vote was 60-32, with all 60 Democrats (including lame duck Massachusetts Senator Paul Kirk) supporting her nomination, and all 32 Republicans voting no. 8 Republicans did not vote. Boy, things are gonna be really difficult after February 11th when Senator-elect Scott Brown is sworn in. We won't be able to pass controversial nominations on straight party-line votes. Thank you, Massachusetts.

That's it for tonight, see you tomorrow!

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