Washington D.C. – The House passed its “reconciliation budget” late on Thursday. Representatives were able to spare the military from any cuts to its budget what so ever, but at the same time not everything could be saved from the chopping block. Medicare, federal employee benefits and food for the poor were not able to be spared from the painful cuts we need to make as a nation.
The House acted to draw up the budget so that the automatic cuts that are going to be made to the Defense Department due to the failure of the Debt Panel to find the money to cut over the next ten years. Even if the cuts were to take place the defense budget would still grow by 20% over the next ten years.
The House GOP plan passed 218 to 199, with 16 Republicans and all Democrats voting no.
Republicans decided that instead of decreasing military spending they would find the money to cut elsewhere. The proposal, which emerged from the House Budget Committee chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan on Monday, would cut $83 billion in federal retirement benefits (equivalent to about a 5 percent pay cut), save $49 billion by capping medical malpractice lawsuits, slash about $48 billion from Medicaid programs and cut food aid by more than $36 billion.
Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) during the floor debate,
“I am so sick and tired of the demonization of programs that benefit poor people in this country, especially the [food stamp] program. This is not some extravagant, overly generous benefit. Rather than cutting waste in the Pentagon budget, which we all know exists, you protect the Pentagon budget. You know, rather than going after subsidies for oil companies and going after billionaire tax breaks, you protect all that.”
The cuts to the Food Stamp program will come despite The Congressional Budget Office’s estimation that demand for food assistance will continue to grow through 2014.
Representative Dennis Kucinich asked,
“How do we reconcile more money for bombs while cutting money for bread? The real deficit that we are dealing with here is a moral deficit, and it’s time that we face the truth.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen accused the GOP of hurting the poor He pointed to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office that found some 22 million households with children would lose aid to buy food, 300,000 children would be cut from school lunch programs, and 300,000 children would lose health insurance under the House plan.
Van Hollen said,
Republicans “won’t ask one penny more from people making over $1 million a year to help us reduce our deficit, not one penny. The math is pretty simple after that. Because you ask nothing of them, your budget whacks everyone else.”
House Democrats also want to avoid the defense cuts but instead wanted to pay for it with tax increases on the wealthy and ending oil company subsidies.
Rep. Trent Franks said,
“The fact is that this administration has spent us into the Stone Age and added to our deficit approximately $1 trillion a year since they came into office. My friends on the other side of the aisle have demagogued this reconciliation bill beyond recognition,” Franks said. “The fact, however, remains that this bill reduces the deficit not by some parade of horribles, but by stopping fraud, eliminating government slush funds and duplicative programs, and controlling runaway federal spending.”
The vote was largely symbolic as the Democratic Senate will not pass it and the White House has promised a veto.