With its presidential signature all but assured, the bill represents the first effort in nearly a decade to try to slow the growth of entitlement programs, one that will be felt by millions of Americans. Women on welfare are likely to face longer hours of work, education or community service to qualify for their checks. Recipients of Medicaid can expect to face higher co-payments and deductibles, especially on expensive prescription drugs and emergency room visits for non-emergency care. More affluent seniors will find it far more difficult to qualify for Medicaid-covered nursing care.Then, while less-privileged mothers, seniors, and families are wondering how they’ll cope in the near future--and hoping that the sacrifices they’re being required to make will at least be for the good of the United States--the Republican White House tells Congress that it needs $70 billion more to continue prosecuting George W. Bush’s seemingly endless war in Iraq through September 30, the close of the fiscal year. This, on top of $50 billion in war funding that Congress approved in December.
And if all of this weren’t bad enough, Republicans in the U.S. Senate are pushing a $56-billion tax cut for wealthy Americans that the House already signed off on--“a combination,” according to the Los Angeles Times, “that would add $16 billion to federal deficits.” Of that tax cut, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said, “The poor suffer. The rich benefit. The middle class pays the bill.” And only half jokingly, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) has suggested that the proposed legislation be named for exactly what it is, the “More Tax Breaks for the Rich and More Debt for our Grandchildren Deficit Expansion Reconciliation Act of 2006.”
Is this supposed to be the magic formula by which the GOP intends to convince Americans that they deserve to retain their hold on power in Washington, D.C.? They’ve got to be kidding--themselves.
READ MORE: “President Has Lost Americans’ Confidence,” by Jay Bookman (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).