Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Spending Cuts Bill and what it means - The bottom line
"......that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.
- A sixth defection — by Sen. Norm Coleman of the sugar-beet-producing state of Minnesota — was headed off when Republican leaders restored $30 million in subsidies for sugar producers. "Sugar farmers will not face any cuts in this important agreement," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), "and Sen. Coleman will support the … package."
- "........the whole package would trim about $3 for every $1,000 the government would otherwise spend.
- In tandem with the spending-cut bill, Congress has prepared legislation to extend some of the temporary tax cuts that it enacted in 2001 and 2003. The spending bill would save $40 billion over the next five years. The tax bill, which Republican congressional leaders hope to bring to a vote early next year, would cost $70 billion.
- "Put the two together," said Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, the top Budget Committee Democrat, "and guess what: You have increased the deficit, not reduced it."
- Much of the criticism of the measure came from groups speaking for the poor, the elderly and college students.
- "The provisions … would cause considerable hardship among low-income families and people who are elderly or have disabilities," said the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
- Medicaid recipients, particularly those just above the poverty line, would have to pay more for their healthcare or accept fewer medical services. Some could be forced to pay as much as $100 for services that now cost $3, the center said.
- For elderly and disabled Medicare recipients, the premium that covers visits to the doctor would be increased.
- A previously enacted reduction of 4.4% in the fees received by doctors for treating Medicare patients would be erased.