Representative Daines, who is probably the most conservative member of Congress from Montana ever, voted yesterday for the Paul Ryan budget, an ideological and financial assault on Montanan’s poor and middle classes—not to mention an enormous gift to the super-rich who Daines represents in Congress.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues that nearly 70% of the budget cuts affect those at the bottom of the economic ladder:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget cuts $3.3 trillion over ten years (2015-2024) from programs that serve people of limited means. That’s 69 percent of its $4.8 trillion in total non-defense budget cuts.
The budget Daines supported spreads it assault out to almost every group of Americans except for the 1%: it targets the elderly and college students, those without health insurance and those seeking to find it. It targets the Medicare and Medicaid programs; it targets those who receive food stamps and those who rely on Head Start.
1 in 8 Americans would lose or fail to obtain health insurance by the end of the plan, Medicaid would be cut by nearly a trillion dollars, and up to $125 billion would be cut from Pell Grants that help low and middle income students attend college.
At the same time the Daines-Ryan budget proposes massive cuts in social services, it offers massive tax cuts to the wealthy, tax cuts that will cause a $5 trillion hole in the budget. Robert Greenstein explains:
Meanwhile, the budget aims to cut the top individual tax rate and the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent, eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, and repeal the ACA’s revenue-raising provisions. These tax cuts would cost about $5 trillion over ten years, based on past analyses by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Yet the Ryan plan doesn’t identify a single tax break to close or narrow to cover the lost $5 trillion, even though his budget assumes no revenue losses overall. And it ignores the hard fact that, in his recent tax reform plan, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp only lowered the top individual tax rate to 35 percent even after identifying scores of politically popular tax breaks to narrow or eliminate.
So what does Representative Daines have to say for himself? He told The Missoulian that he considers the budget “a solution to our debt crisis and a balanced budget and a Congress with the courage to lead.”
It’s certainly leadership, alright, if leadership means pressing the accelerator down on the mad Republican race to turn the United States into a third world nation with no middle class, just an elite class and the rest of us who struggle to educate our kids and take care of our elderly. It’s leadership, if leadership means putting the economic interests of the very small elite ahead of the well-being of the nation.
It’s worth remembering that the budget that Daines voted for yesterday is essentially the same budget that Denny Rehberg rejected because it would hurt Montana senior citizens. Montanans rejected the kind of extremism Dennis Rehberg offered in the Senate in 2012; I can only hope they’ll have the sense (and information from the media) to reject an even more reactionary version in 2014.