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More "shared sacrifice"

Here's why the Democrats are full of it on social insurance and the so-called fiscal cliff:

There are two talking points:

1. The rich should pay "a little more," their "fair share." etc., in taxes.*

2. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security should not be cut.

Assune for the sake of the argument that the Democrats don't have another betrayal behind Door #2. It doesn't matter! Money's fungible! All the household money is in one pile. If the Democrats don't cut Medicaid, but do cut foot stamps, or unemployment insurance, or home heating aid, that pile shrinks! That's why this should be the baseline:

Not one penny of cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or any other social insurance program, and any savings to be paid out as benefits.

The Democrats are defending programs. But they should be defending households. Here are some of the social insurance programs that are on the table, even if Social Security, Medicare, and Medcaid turn out to be off the table:

Unemployment benefits extension in 2013 ($40 billion): If long-term unemployment benefits are allowed to expire at the end of the year, some 2 million jobless will be affected. Kogan says "there will be some extension, because that's just brutal. It's just a question of how much."

Pell Grants ($36 billion): These need-based grants help some 10 million low-income students afford college. 

Section 8 Housing Assistance ($19 billion): Section 8 vouchers allow more than 2 million super low-income families to afford decent housing in the private market. 

Job Training ($18 billion in 2009): Loads of federal job training programs help millions of seniors, Native Americans, farm workers, veterans, young people, and displaced or laid-off workers with career development.

Head Start ($7.9 billion):  The program, which helps kids from disadvantaged homes be better prepared to start school, had about a million enrollees in 2010. Research has shown that Head Start generates real long-term benefits for participants. 

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program ($3.47 billion): In 2011, about 23 million poor folks got help paying the winter heating bills through LIHEAP.

Community Health Centers ($3.1 billion): In 2011, more than 20 million patients, 72 percent of whom were below the poverty line, got healthcare through federally-supported community health centers.

Title 1 Education Grants ($322 million): Under the No Child Left Behind Act, school districts serving a big percentage of low-income kids get financial assistance to help them meet state academic standards.

Women, Infants, and Children ($7.2 million in 2011): The Department of Agriculture's WIC program helps low-income moms and babies get access to supplemental nutrition and health care referrals. WIC has about 9 million participants, most of whom are kids.

Not one penny should be cut from of any of these programs. Go scuttle an aircraft carrier or something. Stop one of the wars. Whatever, dude. You're the Preznit.

NOTE * Never mind that the top rate won't come close to the 90% top rate of the Eisenhower. And never mind that as MMT teaches, the operational reality is that taxes don't fund spending.

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letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Btw, Digby's picked up your "shared sacrifice" Aztec economics graphic in slightly different form here.

Submitted by lambert on

... you mean "completely inferior," with no joke and a worse graphic. And no hat tip!

(Incidentally, I thought the original idea was yours, although the execution is mine.)

tom allen's picture
Submitted by tom allen on

Here she is talking to NPR:

"We were there last summer," she said in an interview with All Things Considered's Robert Siegel this afternoon. "The president agreed to a grand bargain that would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion. Speaker Boehner walked away from that. He said the president walked away from that. Well, let's all walk back to it."

And here's her starting position:

Robert also asked Pelosi if she would be open to raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare.

Pelosi said she would not start there. It wouldn't be fair, she said, to make changes to those programs before asking wealthy Americans to pay "their fair share."

No changes before the rich pay a few cents more. What bravery!