Sunday, November 20, 2005

Under the Cover of Darkness the Future Dims

The sparse viewership on C-Span was probably close to nil. It was long past newspaper deadline time. Television network news had long been broadcast, when the vote came. At 2:00 am Thursday morning the United States House of Representatives voted 217- 215 to cut $50 billion dollars from the federal budget. Those cuts included $8.9 billion from Medicaid, $746 million from Food Stamps, $14 billion from Higher Education, $2.9 billion from Farm Subsidies and $4.9 billion from Child Support Enforcement.

Citing the cost of ongoing wars and military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan and the price to rebuild New Orleans, wherever the federal government gets around to it, the House of Representatives decided to lay those cost on the shoulders of the poor, the elderly, farmers, students and single parents. And to add insult to reduced revenue the House announced that a vote will occur after the Thanksgiving break to retain tax cuts for the affluent and wealthy because not even the House leadership is arrogant enough to pass a mult-billion dollar tax cut on the heels of slicing and dicing social programs.

Those social programs could have well helped the targeted populations pull themselves out of poverty in the future or stopped them from tumbling into poverty as they live on the precipice and the margins. While the House budget package must be reconciled with the Senate package (which is marginally better than the House -- only $35 billion in cuts and tax cuts) in conference committee, the least among us will get no assistance from the White House.

President Bush halfway around the world, took time while brow beating China to "expand political, social and religious freedom" (emphasis added) to express displeasure and threaten a veto of the Senate action (becuase the tax cuts are not deep enough) and called the House plan "...a significant savings package that will restrain spending..."1

"A significant savings package?" When income and wealth inequity continue to grow (and may expand thanks to the House budget plan) and when poverty has received renewed attention after the flooding of New Orleans, Congress responded in the middle of night and the President acquiesced in dimming the future for those who exist on the margins.

When push came to shove, the compassionate conservatives decided to conserve government spending by being as uncompassionate as possible and doing so in under the cover of darkness and from tens of thousands of miles away.