'Operation Offset' - GOP May Cut Medicare to Pay for Katrina

This morning on 'This Week', Indiana Congressman Mike Pence unveiled the GOP's plans for paying for the Gulf Coast reconstruction.

House Republicans are looking at delaying some federal spending, including money for a prescription drug benefit under Medicare and thousands of highway projects, to offset the cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast, a leading GOP fiscal conservative said Sunday.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said there is a need for dramatic spending cuts in "big-ticket items."

...delaying the drug benefit by a year are expected to be among the proposals House Republicans are preparing for "Operation Offset" this week, Pence said.

"We need to rebuild," he said. "We can find the cuts in Washington, D.C., to do that, I really believe that."

Perhaps the most disgusting thing about the Republican plan to delay the Medicare prescription drug benefit by a year is the fact that, only this past Friday, it was announced that Medicare premiums will increase next year, in part to pay for the prescription drug benefit. This is the same prescription drug benefit touted by candidates up and down the GOP slate last year. If there's a more egregious example of a political bait-and-switch, I'm not aware of it.

On the question of how to pay for Gulf Coast recovery, the American people probably have it right. A recent NBC/WSJ poll found that 45% of Americans would like to see the reconstruction paid for by reducing spending in Iraq. The second most popular option was repealing the tax cuts with 27% support. Only 12% support cutting spending on other federal programs. Just 12%. I'm sure, though I can't prove it, that of that 12%, only a small percentage would support cuts to a program aimed at the elderly.

Mind you, I'm sure there are quite a few items in the federal budget that can be cut. The mismanagement of the Iraq war has likely resulted in the waste of hundreds of millions of dollars. No-bid contracts to political cronies are generally a bad idea when cost savings are an issue, especially when they're given to companies under SEC investigation. But to expect the Americans most at need to foot the bill while refusing to ask the wealthy to give up their tax cuts is absolutely unconscionable.

Tags: Republicans (all tags)

Comments

16 Comments

It Is A Sure-Fire Way To Boost Their Popularity.
Not only that, but I suspect that the so-called red states are going to get hit massively if these things are allowed. I don't think they'll be voting very much if they can't afford shoes.
by blues 2005-09-18 10:42PM | 0 recs
Hundreds of millions of dollars?
The UK's Independent has published the following,

What has happened to Iraq's missing $1bn?
By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
Published: 19 September 2005
One billion dollars has been plundered from Iraq's defence ministry in one of the largest thefts in history, The Independent can reveal, leaving the country's army to fight a savage insurgency with museum-piece weapons....

The fraud took place between 28 June 2004 and 28 February this year under the government of Iyad Allawi, who was interim prime minister. His ministers were appointed by the US envoy Robert Blackwell and his UN counterpart, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Among those whom the US promoted was a man who was previously a small businessman in London before the war, called Hazem Shaalan, who became Defence Minister.

Mr Shalaan says that Paul Bremer, then US viceroy in Iraq, signed off the appointment of Ziyad Cattan as the defence ministry's procurement chief. Mr Cattan, of joint Polish-Iraqi nationality, spent 27 years in Europe, returning to Iraq two days before the war in 2003. He was hired by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority and became a district councillor before moving to the defence ministry.

For eight months the ministry spent money without restraint. Contracts worth more than $5m should have been reviewed by a cabinet committee, but Mr Shalaan asked for and received from the cabinet an exemption for the defence ministry. Missions abroad to acquire arms were generally led by Mr Cattan. Contracts for large sums were short scribbles on a single piece of paper. Auditors have had difficulty working out with whom Iraq has a contract in Pakistan.

Authorities in Baghdad have issued an arrest warrant for Mr Cattan. Neither he nor Mr Shalaan, both believed to be in Jordan, could be reached for further comment. Mr Bremer says he has never heard of Mr Cattan.

Shall we say "billions!?

by jlmccreery 2005-09-18 10:54PM | 0 recs
Yes,
I think we shall.  We can add this one to the 8.9 billion we've already "lost."

"Fiscal responsibility," my Aunt Fanny.  Sheesh.

by Marc in KS 2005-09-19 03:19AM | 0 recs
GOP disease has a name:narcissistic personality di
narcissistic personality disorder

see

http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/traits.html

by ultraworld 2005-09-19 08:20AM | 0 recs
Wanna know how to pay for Katrina relief?
Go ask Taxpayers for Common Sense. I'm sure they'd have a few choice words about the energy bill, the highway bill, tax cuts, the Pentagon's budget, the...
by craverguy 2005-09-18 11:17PM | 0 recs
Gulf Coast Recovery?
There won't be any "Gulf Coast recovery."  Bush is just using New Orleans to get more money to Halliburton, Bechtel and the rest of them.  Bush doesn't care about New Orleans and he no longer needs to worry about reelection.  These guys know that their time is up soon, and they are going to take the money and run.  All of the Bush Administration sycophants will be making millions in the private sector after 2,008.  By 2,010, most Americans, who seem to have memories slightly better than those of a goldfish, will probably forget about it or it will all be blamed on liberals.  Jeb Bush will be president by 2,012 (which, by the way, is the date given by the Mayans for the end of the world if I'm not mistaken).
by steve expat 2005-09-18 11:49PM | 0 recs
End of the 'Job' era..
Technology is going to replace most jobs within 20 years.. People will be on their own, like we used to be, but without the ability to do the same kinds of jobs (crafts, small manufacturing, farming) that we used to. People with wealth will live off investments.. the rest of the economy will implode, unless we figure out new ways to incentivize people and balance the needs of society that we seem to be avoiding thinking about now..

:0

Or we'll see genocide..

by ultraworld 2005-09-19 08:24AM | 0 recs
This was already in the works
BEFORE Katrina...now they just have an alibi.
by Parker 2005-09-18 11:53PM | 0 recs
What if?
Weren't we saying, at one time, that this particular drug benefit package enriched the pharmaceutical companies at an enormous cost without provided equivalent health benefits.  Weren't we saying that it forced seniors into picking one of many plans that may or may not cover what their doctors prescribed, that was unduly complicated, and that would be useless for those elderly who were no longer able to outwit the bureaucracy in "governmentese?"

What if we let the Republicans take the political heat for killing a ridiculously badly written bill and write a better one when we take power next year?

By all means continue the outrage, but bear in mind that this may save us a great deal in the future when we're stuck playing the grownups and straightening out the administrative and legal mess the Republicans have gotten our country into.

by prince myshkin 2005-09-19 12:25AM | 0 recs
Re: What if?
The thought definitely crossed my mind that the program they're seeking to 'delay' isn't a good one. However, for them to come up with the prescription drug plan, run for reelection on it, raise peoples' premiums to pay for it, and then put it off to save their tax cuts is sickening.

I like your idea. This gives us another chance to revisit a bad piece of legislation and propose a replacement program to go into effect in 2007. However, Democratic legislators should first and foremost oppose any cuts to social spending to fund reconstruction, at least if they are not also accompanied by repeal of tax cuts.

by Scott Shields 2005-09-19 06:26AM | 0 recs
Starving the beast
Here is a simple plan to keep us from starving the beast, as Dean refers to it -

  1. Increase corporate taxes - specifically follow a percentage increase directly correlated to the propensity of a company to pay lobbyists. More lobbyists, more taxes.

  2. Enforce bidding on rebuilding contracts to drop the prices. No more "no bid" contracts.

  3. Immediately fine every contractor working in Iraq that has not been able to account for the missing billion dollars there, a fine of two billion dollars.

  4. Shut down half of the Federal Reserve Bank. This institution is there only to train-lift bullion from one bank to another, one night. We're electronic now.

  5. Raise sales taxes in Louisiana, raise property taxes -

  6. Enforce the Insurance companies legal obligation to pay on their flood insurance and other damage insurance - they will pay millions this month to lobby the govt. to keep from having to pay their obligations, just have the fed immediately close that feeding trough and use the new bankruptcy laws to lock in the payments to Americans -

ooh. Thats a good one. Use the bankruptcy laws to enforce payments from corporations to Americans...
What if we starve the beast, and its a dragon that has been eating us..?
by turnerbroadcasting 2005-09-19 01:26AM | 0 recs
The Democratic Leadership Needs to Speak Up
What an opportunity for the Blues to show up the Reds with ideas and plans to pay for the rebuilding effort. Cutting back on the idiot's war is a given, but how many additional billions can be saved by cutting the lard from the transpotation bill? Yes, some "pet" projects in Blue areas will loose, but this is for the greater good (and the Reds will take a bigger hit). Want to cut the cost of the drug program by 50% and save billions more? How about letting the SSA negotiate prices like the VA does? Do we really care that the pharmaceutical industry (reds that they are) wouldn't like this one?
There are lots of ways to "cut" spending that most people in this country will agree with, but the leadership has got to speak up now! Then you can start talking about pulling back on some of the tax cuts.
by blogus 2005-09-19 02:15AM | 0 recs
This is just the beginning
they will try to slash every major social welfare program in the government.  Katrina is a blessing in disguise for these people.  They will cry alligator tears about the needs in the Gulf and about the huge deficit and the only way to combat it is to cut programs.  In the past they would have won, now let's see if Democrats have any balls.
by Robert P 2005-09-19 05:52AM | 0 recs
That's it!
Take from the elderly and give it to the survivors! Typical Wingnut thinking!
by eddieb 2005-09-19 08:04AM | 0 recs
Let'em Try to Slash Medicare
Pence can talk all he wants about cutting Medicare and in particular the Medicare drug benefit, but he comes from a pretty safe Republican district.  Some of his colleagues who might be facing the loss of five to ten percent of their total votes because Medicare recipients abandon them  might not be so amendable to slashing Medicare benefits.  Just remember, this legislation was greeted by a lukewarm reception because it was not terribly great anyway and delaying it only makes it less desirable legislation.  Worse, this bill was about the only decent legislation the Congress could point to.  Take this away, along with the terrible performance of NCLB and the DHS, and the only thing left the Repubs in Congress can point to is the taxcuts - and they're becoming a liability, not an asset.  Pence's comment just shows how bankrupt Republican policies are and how out of touch with the electorate they are.
by VizierVic 2005-09-19 08:57AM | 0 recs
Service cuts.. not tax cuts..
For 90% of Americans, the former far outweigh the latter..

They are taking from the poor and middle class to give to the rich..

by ultraworld 2005-09-19 06:27PM | 0 recs

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