Once again I am turning over my blog space to disseminate some important information - this time from MoveOn.org.
September 11 provided a golden opportunity for the enemies of civil liberties to encroach on fundamental freedoms in the name of security - a security that has been revealed to be an illusion. The destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina has now emboldened another group to take actions that would otherwise be considered unconscionable. Read on:
Dear MoveOn member,
Last week, congressional Republicans responded to Hurricane Katrina by proposing to cut nearly a trillion dollars from vital national services, like health care for the poor and elderly, student loans, Amtrak, and eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (again!).1 Republican leaders in Congress are now gauging the public's response to see if they can get away with their plan. We need to show them the answer is "no."
The cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast, while huge, is far less than what President Bush has given away in tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent.2 National crises like Hurricanes Rita and Katrina are times for all Americans to stick together and put in our fair share.
So today we're launching an urgent petition to Congress to fully rebuild the Gulf Coast and pay for it by ending Bush's tax cuts for the very wealthy, not by slashing vital services that Americans need. If we can gather a quarter million signatures this week, we can show them that this destructive plan just won't fly.
Please sign today:
The Republican proposal, titled "Operation Offset," was authored by the Republican Study Committee, a group of over 100 influential members of Congress, including powerful committee chairs and members of the Republican leadership.3 The proposal starts with support from at least these 100 representatives, and they are looking to quickly build momentum.
A full reconstruction of the Gulf Coast region is generally estimated to cost around $200 billion.4 We could more than meet this cost by rolling back Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for just the wealthiest one percent of the country, which would save us an estimated $327 billion.5
"Operation Offset," however, calls for an astounding $949 billion dollars in cuts over 10 years to vital national services.6—almost five times the full cost of reconstruction. To further put that in perspective, it's also more than 4 times what we've spent in Iraq.7
This plan is not about "offsetting," or rebuilding—it's about exploiting this crisis to push their longstanding goals for America. As conservative movement leader Grover Norquist has often put it, the goal is to get government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."8 This proposal is their latest attempt to drown the public sector.
The excess of the Republicans' proposed cuts is almost unbelievable. You can read the full proposal here:
Here are just some of the most egregious cuts:
- $225 billion cut from Medicaid, the last-resort health insurance program for the very poor.
- $200 billion cut from Medicare, the health care safety net for the elderly and the disabled.
- $25 billion cut from the Centers for Disease Control
- $6.7 billion cut from school lunches for poor children
- $7.5 billion cut from programs to fight global AIDS
- $5.5 billion to eliminate all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- $3.6 billion cut to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities
- $8.5 billion cut to eliminate all subsidized loans to graduate students.
- $2.5 billion cut from Amtrak
- $2.5 billion to eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative
- $417 million cut to eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency
- $4.8 billion cut to eliminate all funding for the Safe and Drug-Free schools program
And the list goes on and on.
Which and how many of these cuts move forward in Congress depends largely on the public response this week.
As the reconstruction begins our country faces a basic question: Will we respond to Katrina by banding together to solve national problems, or by helping the wealthy and powerful cut and run while those left behind fend for ourselves?
The radical Republicans have spoken up loud and clear with their answer, and we must respond with ours.
Please sign today:
Thanks for all that you do.
–Ben, Tanya, Matt, Justin and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Monday, November 26, 2005
1 "Lawmakers Prepare Plans to Finance Storm Relief," The New York Times, September 20th 2005
Note: the $500 billion referred to this article only covers section 1 in "Operation Offset". The full proposal has six sections and calls for total cuts of $949,674,000,000 over 10 years.
See the full proposal here: http://www.moveonpac.org/images/operation_offset/operation_offset.htm
2 Center for American Progress
3 The Republican Study Committee
Some examples of prominent RSC members include:
RSC Founder Rep. John Doolittle (AZ), Republican Conference Secretary
Rep. Eric Cantor (VA) Chief Deputy Majority Whip
Rep. Richard Pombo (CA), Chair, House Committee on Resources
Rep. Joe Barton (TX), Chair, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
4 "How to spend (almost $1 billion a day)" Time Magazine, September 26th, 2005
5 Center for American Progress
6 Operation Offset, RSC Budget Options 2005
7 Based on a $196 billion dollar cost for the Iraq war to date.
National Priorities Project
8 "Grover Norquist: 'Field Marshal' of the Bush Plan", The Nation, May 14th 2001