Our three party system is in gridlock, hours away from the Republicans and the Tea Party forcing a majority shut down of the operation of the United States government. It's not about numbers. It is about the Tea Party using the back-door powers of the purse to bypass debating legislation that they want to change or eliminate without that nagging democratic process that might hinder their unfettered ambition.
This is where the investment of the radical Right's Koch Brothers and the other very wealthy Americans, who bamboozled voters into believing that they were sending "fiscal" conservatives to Congress, start seeing dividends.
The money was a done deal days ago. Speaker Boehner would have loved to say "yes!" to cuts in a wide variety of federal programs that exceeded his own tough numbers. It's the kind of win that he could spend hours on Fox News crowing about.
Instead, after another failed round of negotiations at the White House last night, he is back speaking to his fractious caucus, and trying to get a final deal done.
What is holding up the show, we learned, are "riders" to the budget bill. These riders are legislative in nature, and not fiscal matters. The stickier ones concern any funding for medical services that provide information and/or counseling and/or abortion services that are NOT funded by the Federal government. Even though the Hyde Amendment prevents federal funding for abortions, the Teahadists of the GOP want any funding stripped.
The Teahadist climate deniers, a well funded arm of the Tea Party, mostly to benefit the polluting enterprises of the Koch Brothers, are seeking to strip the EPA of money if it tries to regulate industry for global warming.
The GOP is trying, by way of the budget, to tinker with legislation on everything from meat inspection to global warming to big ticket items like privatizing Medicare or stripping the funding from the Health Care Reform Act is normal background noise to the budget process. It is usually done symbolically, and then ceremoniously dumped as everyone hashes out a deal on the numbers.
The Tea Party, though doesn't see it that way. They are hamstringing their leadership, refusing to budge, holding their breath until they get their way.
The politicians elected who said that they were all about jobs and getting the economy healthy are doing everything in their power to cater to their special interest groups.
What the GOP proposes via the Ryan "blueprint" is a the biggest single wealth transfer to the wealthy and to corporate powers ever proposed. If passed as is, corporations would completely run the country, with little or no checks on their activities.
Biggest move of money is a $4Trillion tax haircut for the rich, coming off of the backs of middle class and poor Americans.
The Ryan plan drops tax rates for the rich down to 25%, which will cost about as much as it saves. Where are the savings coming from, that balance that gift to the wealthy?
The middle class and poor. Privatized Medicare, the hamstringing of the EPA, and the end of Head Start and PELL grants, and railroad a bunch of military industrial complex pet projects through that the Defense Department has already cut out of its budget and does not need or want.
Pretty much anything that provides a framework for people to try and get out of poverty, and the safety net that keeps millions of older Americans from slipping hopelessly out of the middle class into poverty will go. Entitlements to defense contractors, big oil, and the rich are in.
Kaiser Health News reported:
"For example, by 2030, under the plan, typical 65 year olds would be required to pay 68 percent of the total cost of their coverage, which includes premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs, according to CBO. That compares with the 25 percent they would pay under current law, CBO said."
The Medicare redo would also incentivize getting rid of the weaker, sicker patients in a privately run Medicare-for-profit system. Otherwise, as the CBO points out in their report on the Ryan proposal, the insurer would have to go to the government for relief:
"The premium support payments would vary with the health status of the
beneficiary. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would
collect fees from plans with healthier enrollees, on average, and convey the proceeds
to plans with less healthy enrollees, on average, with the goal of appropriately
compensating plans for the health risks of their insured population."
Basically, Ryan and the Teahadists want to sack Medicare for the funds that they can wring out of it. They will also stick seniors with thousands of dollars in health care costs that will sink middle class retirees or force them to continue working well beyond traditional retirement age, as the CBO report highlights:
"A private health insurance plan covering the standardized benefit would, CBO estimates, be more expensive currently than traditional Medicare. Both administrative costs (including profits) and payment rates to providers are higher for private plans than for Medicare. Those higher costs would be offset partly but not fully by savings from lower utilization stemming from two sources. First, private health insurers would probably impose greater utilization management than occurs in Medicare. Second, private plans might restrict enrollees’ ability to purchase supplemental insurance plans; enrollees would thus face higher out-of-pocket costs than they do in Medicare, and that increased cost sharing would encourage lower utilization."
These kinds of legislative changes should be reserved for debate on the merits of those changes by the committees that oversee them, not by Ways and Means as a back door to redesigning the government in the Tea Party's image.
The only reason to go to the back door to get these agenda items placed into the budget discussions is because the GOP knows that most, if not all of these proposals are DOA if they bring them up in front of the appropriate committees in Congress.
What the Republicans in the House are doing is just a small step up in the ethics department from Scott Walker's manipulations of the Wisconsin legislature's to get the union-busting vote from his puppet legislature last month.
At conservative U.S. News & World Report, the poll being conducted there shows a stunning 81% of those voting call the plan "awful," up from 78% yesterday.
It is time for Speaker Boehner to muster up some control over the petulant children in his caucus, and stick to getting a deal done based on slashing waste and duplicative programs which the Government Accounting Office (GAO) has already identified.
It is time for the Tea Party to let the goalpost sit where it is, and finish this deal.
My shiny two.