Monday, August 1, 2011

Bad Policy, Bad Process, Bad Faith -- Bad Deal

The Debt Deal certainly is better than the Boehner Bill, and better still than the Tea Party favorite, the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill.  But it is nonetheless bad policy, bad process, and bad faith. Arbitrary spending caps and across-the-board spending cuts are lazy, wicked, and destructive mechanisms that disguise glacial policy change. The proposed Super Committee and its fast-tracked decisions are anti-democratic and irresponsible -- both procedurally and substantively -- delegating plenary legislative authority from the many to the few.

The losers in this deal are the people -- especially the poor, the elderly, the medically vulnerable, and the jobless. This debt deal should put an end to Democratic excuse-making for President Obama's failure to end the jobs crisis and his willingness to put the social safety net at risk. In this debt deal, we have a Democratic President serving up to slaughter Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid -- by the Super Committee, whose work must be approved as-is if across-the-board spending cuts or another default crisis are to be averted.

While the deal does not target Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security for immediate cuts, it does offer up Medicare for across-the-board cuts should the Super Committee fail to report a deficit reduction package, should the Congress reject it, or should the Congress kill a Balanced Budget Amendment. The White House says Medicare cuts will affect providers, not beneficiaries. But in the absence of Medicare-for-All or some other single payer system, cuts to Medicare providers inevitably will impose costs on beneficiaries, increasing numbers of providers who refuse to treat Medicare patients.

    Social Security and Medicaid are to be exempted from across-the-board cuts triggered by failure of the Super Committee.  But before we even get to across-the-board cuts, the Super Committee will be empowered to cut ("reform") Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as part of its deficit reduction package.  

    This morning, a White House official reportedly lamented that some Democrats just don't see the need to reduce the deficit.  What a sad day when a Democratic White House snidely condemns policy makers who express legitimate dismay at a deal that will spread poverty and economic insecurity."

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