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Cuts in Medicaid? OK. Reverse Tax cuts for the rich? NO.

Reported by Chrish - October 10, 2005

Today 10/10/05 on Special Report, host Brit Hume asked "Is it possible that the Congress of the US could actually cut billions of dollars of federal spending, some of it which is already approved, to pay for hurricane relief, of course..."
Bush says he wants it, Republicans in Congress say they want it, but it's not something you see often on Capitol Hill.

Major Garrett introduced his report saying "Disaster costs keep rising: hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Pakistan earthquakes, and the ongoing cost of the Iraq war. All this piled up atop a big deficit and an even bigger debt."

Comment: The Pakistan earthquake? On a par with Katrina (in its effect on the US budget) and the Iraq moneypit? Fox and Bushco often speak of the insurgents "getting desperate"...

Leon Panetta (Former WH Chief of Staff in the Clinton Administration) was then shown in a video clip saying "...a real problem facing this country, at the very moment when we're expecting 70-80 million baby boomers to retire and to add additional costs to Social Security and Medicare - we're headed toward a fiscal cliff."

Garrett said this year's (2005) deficit is $317 billion, and the national debt is "nearly 8 trillion". (That's $317,000,000,000.00, and $7,900,000,000,000.00 respectively. Put THAT on the screen.) That's an annual cost of about $22,000.00 per household, the highest since World War II. "The war on terror is partly to blame" he said, "defense spending up 64% since 9/11.

"BUT" he says "domestic spending is up too. Education is up 100%; healthcare research up 61%; farm subsidies up 16%; veterans benefits up 51%.

Heritage Foundation's Brian Reidl says that most lawmakers are coming to the conclusion that this level of spending is unsustainable. GOP House leaders, we're told, vow to find $70 billion in savings.

Garrett says "Some of that could come from Medicaid, the nation's indigent health-care program." (From m-w.com: indigence - a level of poverty in which real hardship and deprivation are suffered and comforts of life are wholly lacking.) Garrett explains that Medicaid costs have risen 10%/year for the past five years, and a 1-point reduction to 9% increase over the next five years could save $10 to $15 billion. (Some lives would probably be lost, but, you know, they're poor lives anyway. Ask Babs.) Radical Republican Tom Coburn of OK is shown putting it in perspective: "it won't grow at 40%, it will grow at 39%. And when you talk about that, it changes the whole perspective." Sure, what can you buy with one percent these days anyway?

Reidl says the Senate is dragging its feet on any spending reform, and some have proposed reversing the tax cuts. Garrett says the White House opposes any effort to roll back "Bush tax cuts" and is seeking new targeted tax cuts to spur business investment n the Gulf .

Garrett reports that top Democrats are going to pressure for repeal of tax cuts for Americans making over $200,000, and "they intend to "slam" Republicans for cutting spending at home to pay for Katrina when they didn't do it to pay for Iraq; a recipe, says one analyst, for gridlock."

Panetta says in dealing with a deficit, it takes tough decisions on spending and revenues, and he hasn't seen either party willing to engage in that tough discipline.

Garrett reports that House GOP leaders are endorsing a 2% across the board cut that will, for the first time since 9/11 (second invocation), affect DHS and defense spending.

Comment: the use of percentages, above, to show comparitive fairness is misleading without much more context. For example, the defense budget of $401.7 billion (excluding Iraq!) is seven times the budget for education ($57.3B). The percentages do not do justice to the disparity of actual dollars spent/cut.

It appears it is getting more difficult, as the reality worsens in this country, for FOX to paint an all-is-well picture for its followers. But Fox is gearing up to paint the Republicans as fiscally responsible in looking for public programs to gut while blaming the Democrats for gridlock when they put their feet down to protect their ordinary constituents.

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