Robert Reich: The Republican’s Social-Darwinist Budget Plan

For those with curious bent Social Darwinism may seem to be a fuzzy concept.  So, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism provides a (relatively) non-technical explanation.  We know that arctic hares that are white in the winter turn brown in the summer.  Those that do the opposite soon become lunch.  Of course humans aren’t bunnies and even those of us that stand out may have some other value in their genes.  

Van Gogh, for example has enriched my life, as has Beethoven who couldn’t hear the music he wrote.  We are human and special.  Invoking Darwin’s model for evolving society is nothing less than Eugenics for the 21st century (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics).  Been there, done that. – Carlos

 Robert Reich’s Blog

Published: Wednesday 21 March 2012
“The money would come out of programs for the elderly, lower-middle families, and the poor.” In an­nounc­ing the Re­pub­li­cans’ new bud­get and tax plan Tues­day, House Bud­get Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ryan said “We are sharp­en­ing the con­trast be­tween the path that we’re propos­ing and the path of debt and de­cline the pres­i­dent has placed us upon.”

Ryan is right about sharp­en­ing the con­trast. But the plan doesn’t do much to re­duce the debt. Even by its own es­ti­mate the deficit would drop to $166 bil­lion in 2018 and then begin grow­ing again.

The real con­trast is over what the plan does for the rich and what it does to every­one else. It re­duces the top in­di­vid­ual and cor­po­rate tax rates to 25 per­cent. This would give the wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans an av­er­age tax cut of at least $150,000 a year.

The money would come out of pro­grams for the el­derly, lower-mid­dle fam­i­lies, and the poor.

Se­niors would get sub­si­dies to buy pri­vate health in­sur­ance or Medicare – but the sub­si­dies would be capped. So as med­ical costs in­creased, se­niors would fall fur­ther and fur­ther be­hind.

Other cuts would come out of food stamps, Pell grants to off­set the col­lege tu­ition of kids from poor fam­i­lies, and scores of other pro­grams that now help mid­dle-in­come and the poor.

 The plan also calls for re­peal­ing Obama’s health-care over­haul, thereby elim­i­nat­ing health­care for 30 mil­lion Amer­i­cans and al­low­ing in­sur­ers to dis­crim­i­nate against (and drop from cov­er­age) peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions.

The plan would carve an ad­di­tional $19 bil­lion out of next year’s “dis­cre­tionary” spend­ing over and above what De­moc­rats agreed to last year. Need­less to say, dis­cre­tionary spend­ing in­cludes most of pro­grams for lower-in­come fam­i­lies.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the Pen­ta­gon would be spared.  So what’s the guid­ing prin­ci­ple here? Pure so­cial Dar­win­ism. Re­ward the rich and cut off the help to any­one who needs it.

Ryan says too many Amer­i­cans rely on gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits. “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a ham­mock that lulls able-bod­ied peo­ple into lives of de­pen­dency.”

Well, I have news for Paul Ryan. Al­most 23 mil­lion able-bod­ied peo­ple still can’t find work. They’re not being lulled into de­pen­dency. They and their fam­i­lies could use some help. Even if the econ­omy con­tin­ues to gen­er­ate new jobs at the rate it’s been going the last three months, we wouldn’t see nor­mal rates of un­em­ploy­ment until 2017.

And most Amer­i­cans who do have jobs con­tinue to lose ground. New re­search by pro­fes­sors Em­man­u­al­Saez and Thomas Pikkety show that the av­er­age ad­justed gross in­come of the bot­tom 90 per­cent was $29,840 in 2010 — down $127 from 2009 and down $4,842 from 2000 — and just slightly higher than it was forty-six years ago in 1966 (all fig­ures ad­justed for in­fla­tion).

They could use bet­ter schools, ac­cess to higher ed­u­ca­tion, lower-cost health care, im­proved pub­lic trans­porta­tion, and lots of other things Ryan and his col­leagues are in­tent on re­mov­ing.

Mean­while, Amer­ica’s rich con­tinue to grow richer — and many of them (and their heirs) are being lulled into lives whose hard­est task is sum­mon­ing the help.

Any­one who thought the Great Re­ces­sion might re­duce Amer­ica’s wild lurch to­ward wild in­equal­ity should think again. The most re­cent data show that just 15,600 su­per-rich house­holds – the top 1 tenth of 1 per­cent – pock­eted 37 per­cent of all the eco­nomic gains in 2010. The rest of the gains went to oth­ers in the top 10 per­cent.

Re­pub­li­can So­cial Dar­win­ists are de­ter­mined that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 be made per­ma­nent. Those cuts saved the rich­est 1 per­cent of tax­pay­ers (roughly 1.4 mil­lion peo­ple) more money on their taxes last year than the rest of Amer­ica’s 141 mil­lion tax­pay­ers re­ceived in total in­come.

Thank you, House Re­pub­li­cans, for “sharp­en­ing the con­trast” be­tween your rad­i­cal So­cial Dar­win­ism and those of us who still cling to the be­lief that the most for­tu­nate have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to the rest.

This ar­ti­cle was orig­i­nally posted on Robert Reich’s blog.

(Na­tionofChange is a 501(c)3 non­profit funded di­rectly by our read­ers. Please make a small do­na­tion to sup­port our work.)

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About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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