Friday, February 22, 2013

Instead of the blame game, how about we look at the Republican alternative?

I see that David Brooks is taking a lot of heat today from liberals for suggesting that President Obama doesn't have a plan to replace the sequester - even though he actually does.

Of course its accepted by everyone that the Republicans have an alternative because they passed one last year in the House. As everyone is putting all their ink into the stupid task of arguing over who is to blame for the sequester in the first place, I don't see many folks comparing the two plans. So perhaps it might be helpful to have a little reminder about just how draconian the Republicans are prepared to be.

Their replacement plan was called the Spending Reduction Act of 2012 and of course it eliminated the cuts to Defense spending. They replaced them with the following:
  • It entirely eliminates the Social Services Block Grant, which serves 1.7 million seniors through programs like Meals on Wheels. This would also cut federal funds for child care and related assistance for 4.4 million children; services for nearly 1 million disabled individuals; and child protective services which serve 1.8 million at-risk children 
  • They also dismantle programs that help homeowners and prevents foreclosures, one of the most critical sources of federal assistance for homeowners who are struggling with foreclosure and need loan modifications. Not only would this limit the home preservation options available to struggling homeowners but would also undermine efforts to support the housing market’s fragile recovery 
  • And they eliminate guaranteed funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, significantly weakening its ability to make sure that the financial products and services that Americans depend on every day —including credit cards, mortgages, and loans—work better for the people who use them.
The bill also advances Rep. Paul Ryan’s approach to domestic discretionary spending, cutting the discretionary cap level far below the bipartisan Budget Control Act total for 2013. The Ryan Budget approach would ultimately impose deep cuts on federal support for education, scientific and medical research, clean energy programs, key infrastructure investments, public safety protections, women’s and public health programs, and critical services for families in need.
In other words, in addition to further reducing the spending caps on ALL federal discretionary programs, their plan is designed to inflict more pain on the most vulnerable in our society...elderly poor, disabled, abused children, struggling homeowners, and those who are victims of financial predators.

You can pick your poison in all of that, but what particularly caught my eye was the elimination (not merely reduction...elimination) of the Social Services Block Grant. I happen to know from my own professional experience that those funds are the backbone of the paltry services we provide in our communities to abused children.

I just got a pretty good dose this week about how far we have to go in creating systems that actually care for these children when I heard the stories of 2 young women who spent the better part of their young lives being shuffled around between foster homes AFTER being traumatized by the abuse in their own families.

Frankly, I'm already enraged by the reality that - while we abhor stories of abuse - as a society we don't really seem to give a damn about the lives of children who experience it. So I guess it shouldn't surprise me that the Republicans think they can get away with gutting the crumbs we currently spend to try to protect them from further abuse.

< end of rant >

So...as bad as the sequester might be - if this is the Republican's idea of an alternative and they refuse to compromise - then let that baby happen. Anyone who wants to blame that on the President or Democrats...bring the fucker on!!!!!

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