It’s no wonder Congressman Paul Ryan’s odd hairline looks so much like Eddie Munster’s (photos above). He is the star of a horror show unfolding in Washington. And this story lacks the comedy of “The Munsters.” Just the creepiness remains.
In a ghoulish assault on American society, Ryan and his fellow-Republicans have proposed a national budget that – among other atrocities – would cut $1.43 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid and deprive up to 25 million children of basic health care. (Click here for details.)
According to an analysis by the Christian Science Monitor, the Ryan budget would mean:
• The end of Medicare and Medicaid as we know them. Medicare, the federal fee-for-service health-insurance program for senior citizens, would turn into a subsidy program. Medicaid, the joint federal-state health-care system for the poor, would become federal block grants to the states. The net effect would be to reduce government spending in these entitlement programs, which are main contributors to America’s unsustainable fiscal path.
• A reduction of the top federal tax rate for individuals and corporations from 35 percent to 25 percent.
• Repeal and defunding of President Obama’s health-care reform.
• A reduction of nondefense, nonsecurity discretionary spending to pre-2008 levels. Under the GOP plan, that means cutting $79 billion next year and $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years. Such spending includes education, research and development, and environmental protection. Contrast that spending cut with the current budget impasse over a smaller proposed cut, $61 billion.
• The conversion of food stamps into a block-grant program, with aid contingent on work or job training. The plan would also make federal housing aid contingent on work or job training.
Republicans say their plan would cut $5.8 trillion in spending over the next 10 years, but the math appears bogus and the assumptions skewed. Some analysts say the savings would amount to no more than a fifth of that amount.
But that’s not what the exercise is about.
This is a frontal assault on traditional American values. It unashamedly takes from the poor to give to the rich.
It would accelerate a deplorable trend that has afflicted America for several years – the transfer of the nation’s wealth to the top 1 percent of the population.
Joseph E. Stiglitz, in the current edition of Vanity Fair, warns of the dangers this trend creates. The Nobel Prize winning economist writes:
In recent weeks we have watched people taking to the streets by the millions to protest political, economic, and social conditions in the oppressive societies they inhabit. Governments have been toppled in Egypt and Tunisia. Protests have erupted in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain. The ruling families elsewhere in the region look on nervously from their air-conditioned penthouses—will they be next? They are right to worry. These are societies where a minuscule fraction of the population—less than 1 percent—controls the lion’s share of the wealth; where wealth is a main determinant of power; where entrenched corruption of one sort or another is a way of life; and where the wealthiest often stand actively in the way of policies that would improve life for people in general.
As we gaze out at the popular fervor in the streets, one question to ask ourselves is this: When will it come to America? In important ways, our own country has become like one of these distant, troubled places.
Stiglitz argues that the transfer of wealth from the mass of the American people to a tiny elite will produce catastrophic results not only for the mass of the people but also for the elite. He sees the unequal distribution of wealth as a crucially destructive factor in the economy as a whole.
But I am sure the GOP won’t heed Stiglitz’s warning.
Like lemmings irresistably driven to plunge over a cliff, the ideologues that now control the Republican Party are steadfastly heading toward economic and social catastrophe – and taking the rest of us with them.