Friday, December 15, 2017

Sorry. The Money Is All Gone.

In floor debate in late November, Senate Finance Committee chairperson Orrin Hatch, who worked with the late Senator Edward Kennedy to create the Children's Health Insurance Program, assured Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown "We're going to get CHIP throught. There's no question about that. I'm going to see that it gets through."

Politico's Haberkorn reported Friday that the Utah Republican stated “We’re going to take good care of CHIP. I can’t tell you exactly when, but we’ll get it done.”

With Republicans in favor of the program and Democrats completely committeed to it, CHIP will sometime in the near future be reauthorized.

Still, Haberkorn added

House Republicans on Wednesday released a spending bill that would fund CHIP for five years but pay for it with cuts to Obamacare and other programs that Senate Democrats would not support. The bill would need Democrats' help to get through the Senate.

Nice little program you got there- it would be a shame if something happened to it.  The GOP is quite willing to fund children's health care- provided that it can chip away at the social safety net elsewhere.

The hostage may be released, but the GOP is bound and determined that a heavy price is paid. It is, after all, the secondary motive for a disastrous tax bill, the primary motive being to please the Party's donors.  Hatch himself gave it away when in the largely empty chamber with Brown, he contended

We're going to do CHIP. There's no question about it in my mind. And it's gotta be done the right way. But- the reason CHIP's having trouble is that we don't have any money anymore. We just add more and more spending and more and more spending and you can look at the  rest of the bill for more and more spending.

"It has to be done the right way... we don't have any money anymore," remarked the Senator who unreservedly voted for the GOP tax plan, targeted to increase the debt by something north of $1 trillion. Excited at the pospect of slashing Medicaid, Speaker Paul Ryan at a conservative event in March bragged to the editor of the National Review "Sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate. We have been dreaming of this since I have been around, since you and I were drinking at a keg.”

Shortly before triumphantly pushing through his chamber the Corporate Tax Cut Sham of 2017, Ryan maintained at a town hall meeting "You cannot get the national debt under control, you cannot get that deficit under control, if you don’t do both — grow the economy, cut spending."  Ryan had commented in a radio interview . "Frankly, it's the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking."

Frankly, the Speaker dares not utter the words "Medicaid" or "Medicare," and while more detached than Hatch, he's a little more subtle, or at least wonkier. So carrying water for Ryan, Politico's Alberta and Bade characterize the Speaker's goal as "entitlement reform," in which he "tackles what he sees as the systemic problems with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid." Charlie Pierce recognizes “'what he sees as being systemic problems' with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are that those programs exist at all."

Senator Marco Rubio echoes Ryan's call that Congress "structurally reform" earned benefits. More candid than the Speaker or Hatch, the Florida Republican stated

The only way you are going to deal with the debt is you have to do two things. ... You have got to generate economic growth because growth generates revenue. But you also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt... The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries.

The good news is that individuals currently elderly probably will be left somewhat, relatively, unharmed. Perhaps Hatch and his merry band of oligarchs with a daddy complex will "take care" of people now in retirement age or close to it because elderly people vote. Health care for children also- to whatever extent- will be provided. But all those people in between better hold onto their wallets. The Republican Senate and Republican Senate are coming for you- unless, of course, your parents leave their $11 million estate to you when they die.

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