Thursday, February 02, 2006

Paying The Bills

Of the United States government. The people who will pay are the elderly, the poor, children and women on welfare and students:

The House yesterday narrowly approved a contentious budget-cutting package that would save nearly $40 billion over five years by imposing substantial changes on programs including Medicaid, welfare, child support and student lending.

With its presidential signature all but assured, the bill represents the first effort in nearly a decade to try to slow the growth of entitlement programs, one that will be felt by millions of Americans. Women on welfare are likely to face longer hours of work, education or community service to qualify for their checks. Recipients of Medicaid can expect to face higher co-payments and deductibles, especially on expensive prescription drugs and emergency room visits for non-emergency care. More affluent seniors will find it far more difficult to qualify for Medicaid-covered nursing care.

The Democrats did a good job in trying to fight it. They only lost by two votes. The saddest thing about all these cuts is that they won't make much of a difference in the government's budget deficit, even though they will make the lives of the most fragile among us much harder:

The impact of the bill on the deficit is likely to be negligible, slicing less than one-half of 1 percent from the estimated $14.3 trillion in federal spending over the next five years. As the House debated the budget-cutting measure, the Senate moved to begin final negotiations with the House on a package of tax cuts and extension of expiring tax cuts that could cost up to $60 billion over five years, more than negating the savings from the budget bill.

This is the real face of compassionate conservatism.