DeMint’s Cuts: A Recipe For Unemployment And Hardship

A Visit to the Food Stamps Office, Recession, Washington State Department of Health and Social Services, Ballard, Seattle, Washington, USA

"A Visit to the Food Stamps Office, Recession, Washington State Department of Health and Social Services, Ballard, Seattle, Washington, USA." Flickr photo By Wonderlane. Reproduced under Creative Commons License.


Washington Post author Joe Davidson reports on a paper by Federally Employed Women on the work that is actually done by federal employees on which people depend every day.  It is just this sort of work that you may not miss until it is gone.

DeMint and the anti-political, pro-business politicians in Congress say they will slash government spending and claim that they will do it without cutting Medicaid, Social Security or the Pentagon budget.  DeMint’s promises are misleading on Medicaid and Social Security (he aims to privatize them)  and he never addresses military spending.

Consider the thousands of effective services and jobs that would be lost under DeMint’s proposals:

Here’s how federal employees affect the life of FEW’s average working mother during just one hour of her day:

June 29, 2009 Launch of GOES-O weather satellite

June 29, 2009 Launch of GOES-O weather satellite. Flickr photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video. Reproduced under Creative Commons License.

“11:00 a.m. Equal employment. My fellow workers and I work as a team allowing us to succeed. This is because workers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforce federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. The Office of Disability Employment Policy works toward a world where people with disabilities have unlimited employment opportunities. The Department of Justice enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act to help provide access from design standards for buildings to mediation. Without these people, several of my co-workers would be unable to work or would not be hired, and I would miss their valuable input.

“11:30 a.m. Weather reports. I check the weather reports. NOAA’s [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s] National Weather Service and Global Systems Division employees do the best job possible in trying to predict the weather to allow us all to adequately prepare for adverse circumstances.

“[Noon]. Health care. I grab a quick lunch and stop to visit my friend in the hospital. We thank the experts at the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] who help ensure that her medications are safe and those at the Department of Health and Human Services who help oversee our health care laws. Helping to relieve my friend’s stress about paying for her medical care are the Health Care Financing Administration workers who make sure Medicare and Medicaid are run efficiently.”

DeMint pretends to never considers the savings these services give to the average person.   It is just these services that will be impacted or eliminated by the proposed cuts. South Carolina alone has over 60,000 federal workers, including 30,000 retirees, all contributing to the community. There is no scenario where the the loss of these jobs would be offset by eliminating, for example, the Food and Drug Administration.

This despite the fact that no analysis can show that even eliminating these programs would reduce the budget deficit.   These ‘discretionary’ programs  do not form a very large portion of the overall federal budget.   And they are highly cost effective.  Adding to the nation’s unemployed, cutting food safety inspections, and reducing education is only going to hurt the country.

Chart shows funds authorized to be spent each fiscal year.

NYT Graph: "Obama’s 2011 Budget Proposal: How It’s Spent Rectangles in the chart are sized according to the amount of spending for that category. Color shows the change in spending from 2010."

The growth in the budget deficit comes from military spending (up 75% since 2000 to $533.7 billion in FY2010) , health care spending (from $460.7 billion in 2000 to 891.2 billion in 2008), and special Bush/Obama spending to stimulate the depressed economy (nearly $800 billion in tax cuts and spending).   Unfortunately, President Obama shares the Washington habit of ignoring the largest parts of the federal budget.   His proposed five-year freeze on “non-military discretionary spending” would target the same daily services as DeMint.

Anyone can question government spending.  They’re just looking at the problem in a completely backward fashion: without addressing ending the wars, you’ll never get military spending under control; without cost containment, you’ll never manage health care costs; without considering how to maintain the services that people actually use, then you’re not really looking out for people. In this as in all other things, DeMint has an ideological commitment first, then lets other usually poorer people worry about the consequences.

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Double Talk on Health Care

Contributed by Agnes Pomata.

When I read Jim DeMint’s views and proposals, I have to admit that I sometimes get to feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Because he was once an adman, DeMint is good at selling his ideas. As with all ads, though, the fact that his policy proposals sound good does not mean that they are good, or in fact, based on true findings.

DeMint Health Care Scowl

DeMint: There are no solutions, only problems. Source: Getty Images via Esquire.

Alternately, DeMint peppers his arguments with words and phrases that are intended to create a chill, like “government-controlled health care”. “So-called ‘free’ universal health care”, as far as I know, is only being called “free” by Jim DeMint. And of course, there is the ever frightening “socialism”.

And he is shrewd enough to know that he needs only to appeal emotionally, and that what he says does not even need to make sense.

Take, for example, DeMint’s statement on health care, on his website http://demint.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=HealthCare. Despite the fact that with increasing deregulation of industry, health care costs have skyrocketed, and in fact, the insurance industry continues to have record profits, he claims that it is “bad tax policy, frivolous lawsuits, government price fixing and over-regulation” that have reduced access to care and increased costs. Just how does that work? If you are fortunate enough to have health insurance, then you surely know that the government has nothing to say about the fact that premiums and co-pays continue to go up as payouts have gone down. If you have spent any time trying to a) contact your insurance company or b) get information regarding coverage or claims, it is obvious that the insurance industry has made the concept of government bureaucracy obsolete.

DeMint goes on to describe his fantasy of “socialized medicine” with absolutely no regard for published health statistics. Compared to the dreaded Canadian universal health care system, life expectancy is lower and infant mortality higher in the U.S., while costs in the U.S. are dramatically higher. So, when DeMint contends that “the wealthy in Europe and Canada often come to the United States for care” part of me doubts the accuracy of the statement while another part of me recognizes that in fact, it would be the wealthy, because they alone could afford U.S. health care.

Always, ALWAYS, we need to watch DeMint’s words. Facts are spurious, arguments use the same emotionally charged rhetoric. The conclusions are idiotic.

DeMint’s proposal to fix our health care system is the same as his proposal for everything else: privatize, deregulate. The huge hole in that argument is that that’s what we have had. That’s what we have now. It doesn’t work. In fact, it has created the broken system we have now.

It is difficult to argue the facts with someone who does not use facts. When words are thrown out for their emotional value alone they cannot be debated. But when we engage in discussions about this important issue with our friends and family, we need to just reiterate what we all already know. We have the system that Jim DeMint is proposing. And it doesn’t work. Nobody really wants more of the same.

Further Reading:

Tea Party Inc.: The Big Money and Powerful Elites Behind the Right Wing’s Latest Uprising.  By Adele M. Stan

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