Class Warfare in the House: Republican Budget “Harshest to People at the Bottom”

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May 17, 2011; Source: Politico | In economics, the problem is called “misplaced aggregation.” We tend to mistakenly assume in the budget debates on Capitol Hill that the cuts will hit everyone equally, but in truth, you can’t aggregate proposed budget cuts in this way.

The pending Republican fiscal year 2012 budget makes bigger cuts in some areas than others. In its promise to roll back spending levels to the beginning of the Bush Administration, the Republican budget takes a particular impact on “labor, health and education appropriations important to poor and working-class families.”

According to Politico, “A proposed $139.2 billion cap for the annual labor, health and education bill is about $19 billion less than the eight-year average for the same discretionary spending under former President George W. Bush – when measured in current dollars.”

Bob Greenstein, of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, translated it into simple English: “I have never seen a budget so badly skewed that has gotten so far past either house of Congress . . . The bottom line is the House budget is a huge Robin Hood in reverse and its own form of class warfare. In terms of a budget that has actually passed any chamber, I think this is probably – by a substantial margin – the harshest to people at the bottom.”

Why is this important? In 2001, the poverty rate was 11.7 percent, but in 2009 it had grown to 14.3 percent – an increase of 10,000,000 people in poverty. In January of 2001, the U.S. unemployment rate had alarmingly risen to 4.2 percent. Last month, the national unemployment rate was 9.0 percent. This number doesn’t count the increasing proportion of the labor force that have had to work part-time because of the lack of sufficient full-time jobs and the numbers of unemployed people who have simply given up and stopped looking for jobs altogether.

Will Democrats successfully negotiate to soften the harshest edges of the all-but-inevitable fiscal year 2012 budget cuts on low income people? Or has the federal budget debate shifted to cutting the deficit without concern for whose interests are overlooked in paying down the nation’s $14 trillion debt?—Rick Cohen

  • Robert Peschel

    Where in the constitution does it say the federal government shall take care of the people? People should be free to take care of themselves. The nannystate is not a good thing for the American soul.

  • Anne Marquez

    Kudos to you Mr. Cohen, for saying it like it is. I am horrified how our governement is ignoring the poor. It is class warfare. And we as a country, as a society – are losing.

  • Mike Levy

    Time for the people of this nation to get over the word ‘socialism’. The bugaboo fear word of the 50’s needs to be recognized as an alternative to politics that have trampled upon the principals of the United States. This country is being run into the ground by both Democrats and Republicans, but especially Republicans who have wooed, legitimized and welcomed the fringe ultra-right into its ranks.

    Keep the people poor, keep them uneducated, teach them hatred and create Republicans.

    Both Democrats and Republicans have abandoned the poor in favor of corporations that are doing their best to eliminate America’s strong middle class. With both parties help avaricious corporations are growing in success.

    If ever the United States was truly a nation of the people, by the people and for the people, it no longer is.

  • Bobby Ferguson

    I find use of the term “class warfare” in this venue (LinkedIn) offensive and inappropriate. No class has declared war on any other class. Not all non-profits are Socialist.

  • Anne Marquez

    You are wrong. The right-wing republicans have declared war on the poor. They did it a while ago.

  • C Mazzei

    Actually, the preamble to the Constitution does say “promote the general welfare.” Everyone taking care of themselves is an unrealistic proposition, so the only alternative is that we take care of each other. Like it or not, the government is the most efficient way to do that.

  • Mike Levy

    Where in the constitution does it say the federal government shall make war on the poor and show favoritism to corporations and the wealthy? People could better take care of themselves were it not for the oppressive hand placed on their backs by corporations. Remove your lederhosen and arm band before you speak about ‘the American soul’, something which I doubt you and your Republican brethren know anything about, nor possess.