Friday, October 28, 2005

 

Trompling the Poor—Again

The Republican conservatives (are there any moderate Republicans left?) are cutting domestic spending programs as much as they can get away with. As I've said before, they're doing it by hurting the poor. They chose the poor because the poor don't make massive campaign donations.



Yahoo! News
House Panel Debates Medicaid Cuts
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051027/ap_on_go_co/congress_budget&printer=1
By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer Thu Oct 27, 7:58 PM ET

A proposal to curb Medicaid spending by about $11 billion by the end of the decade withstood a challenge in a key House committee Thursday as lawmakers worked on a plan to slow the automatic growth of the program, which provides health care to the poor and disabled.

Democrats, saying Republicans were trying to cut the deficit on the backs of poor, lost a vote to block the plan. Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans countered that they were making only modest trims — about 1 percent — in a program estimated to cost $1.1 trillion over the same period.

The Medicaid measure is to be folded into a sprawling budget bill to implement Republican plans that would, for the first time in eight years, take on the automatic growth of federal programs such as food stamps, farm subsidies and student loan subsidies. The plan also would raise revenue by auctioning television airwaves to wireless companies and leasing parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.

The Medicaid plan would impose new co-payments on Medicaid beneficiaries and would allow states to scale back coverage. It also would tighten rules designed to limit the ability of elderly people to shed assets in order to qualify for nursing home care, lower pharmacy profit margins and encourage pharmacies to issue generic drugs.

***

Panel Democrats who tried to kill the Medicaid curb legislation lost by a 30-24 vote. They lost a series of votes to ease the cuts.

***

Citing budgetary restraints, the GOP-led Senate rejected mainly Democratic proposals to boost spending significantly for such programs as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, funded at $2.2 billion; Pell grants, budgeted at $13.2 billion; and the Individuals with Disabilities Act, funded at $11.7 billion.

But the chamber did approve, by voice vote, $8 billion in emergency spending to prepare vaccines and antiviral drugs and make sure health facilities are ready for an outbreak of bird flu. The amendment gives the president flexibility to decide when and how the money will be used, depending on the nature and extent of any epidemic.

The legislation now goes to House-Senate negotiations. So far Congress has completed, and the president signed, only three of the 11 spending bills that fund federal programs for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

Separately, the House Financial Services Committee met its $470 million spending cut target by cutting off a program that lets local governments buy and rehabilitate multifamily housing properties that the federal government takes over through default on government-guaranteed loans. A bipartisan package of deposit insurance reforms was also approved.

The Agriculture Committee, meanwhile, postponed until Friday a vote on a $3.7 billion plan to curb farm subsidies and tighten eligibility requirements for the food stamp program. The committee's earlier target was slightly higher but GOP leaders gave panel Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., a break after another committee exceeded its savings goal.

With a lower savings target, Goodlatte dropped one of his more controversial food stamp proposals — which would block states from extending benefits for childless adults facing hardships such as homelessness — and modified another affecting legal immigrants.

The House GOP budget plan was originally intended to cut $35 billion in spending over five years, but after pressure from conservatives, GOP leaders directed committees to cut another $15 billion to help pay the cost of hurricane recovery. The Senate will begin debate on a companion $39 billion measure on Monday.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2005 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

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