So I've downloaded and skimmed the proposed GOP "budget" (you can get a pdf copy here) I put the word "budget" in quotes because it is immediately apparent, from even the most cursory examination, that the document that the GOP is referring to as a "budget" is, in fact, no such thing. It is basically a propaganda pamphlet that takes swipes at the administration's bailout plan, while presenting vague, unspecific, unsupported, goals as an alternative (an even this it does only sparingly). Here, for instance, is the Republican entitlement reform "plan," as it pertains to health care:
Instead of accelerating the demise of our nation’s large
entitlement programs and creating an unsustainable new
government health care program, Republicans seek to
provide universal access to affordable health care and to
address Medicare and Medicaid’s trillion dollar
unfunded liabilities with common-sense reforms that
ensure our children and grandchildren can secure benefits
in the future.
Republicans support leveling the playing field through
policies that will provide tax incentives for millions more
working families and small business owners to obtain
access to coverage.
Republicans also support breaking down the balkanized
barriers within our current health insurance industry,
allowing individuals to shop across state lines to purchase
affordable policies that best meet their needs.
Independent estimates suggest that as many as 12 million
individuals could obtain access to health insurance
through this approach alone—health insurance that
would be more responsive to individual consumers’
Republicans support reasonable limits on non-economic
damages, along with penalties for trial lawyers who file
frivolous lawsuits, among other reforms necessary to
preserve patients’ relationships with their physicians and
end the unnecessary defensive medicine practices
increasing costs for all Americans.
With regard to entitlements, Republicans support the
notion that wealthy seniors like Warren Buffett and
George Soros can afford to pay $2 per day more for their
Medicare prescription drug coverage. But we would go
further to save Medicare, by simplifying the current
benefit structure in traditional Medicare to include a
catastrophic cap on out-of-pocket expenses for the first
time in the program’s history. And Republicans plan
vigorous efforts to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in
order to make traditional Medicare more efficient.
Republicans also want to restore quality, care, and
efficiency to the Medicaid program and will look to
governors as the laboratories to improve and enhance the
program. A more flexible financing structure will remove
states’ current incentive to engage in what one liberal
advocacy group called “accounting arrangements…
designed primarily to provide a windfall for state
governments.” More importantly, additional flexibility
will allow states to design program improvements for
beneficiaries—for instance, using state dollars to
supplement private health insurance coverage. Unlike
Democrats who continue to block new state-level reforms
in order to expand government-run programs,
Republicans believe that providing beneficiaries with
additional choices will improve quality of care while
slowing health cost growth.
Now, you might be asking yourself: what kind of a budget names George Soros by name? The answer, of course, is: a vaguely worded political tract thinly disguised as a budget. And let me say that I'm being overly generous in this description. This pamphlet is "thinly disguised as a budget" only in the sense that GOP officials are referring to it as a budget. Even the document's cover page does not make that audacious claim, calling itself instead a "road to recovery."
And what's worse, there doesn't appear to be a word in this document that hasn't been GOP shibboleth for the last 30 years. Consider the quoted text above, which claims to be the GOP approach to entitlement reform. The first thing you'll notice is that it promises "universal access to affordable health care." This claim is laughable once you scan the sparse details the document offers. How will it do this? Well: (1) by providing tax incentives. (2) by restricting States abilities to regulate the quality and content of health insurance policies (3) by asking Warren Buffet and George Soros to pay $730 a year in additional medicare premiums. This is the same B.S. the GOP has been selling since before I can remember. Does anyone seriously think that these steps would do anything to slash the ranks of the uninsured in this country?
In sum, the document is an absurd sham. Hopefully we'll see it savaged in the press tonight. If Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and John Stewart don't tear this thing to shreds they'll have missed a golden opportunity to do the nation a service.
Summary: this thing's not a budget. It's a joke.