Fools’ Gold in Federal Budget Cuts

Deficient in judgment. One of several definitions one can find in the dictionary for the word fool. And people’s propensity for foolish behavior rapidly grows when money becomes involved.

In 1848 California, many who believed in the get-rich schemes of others learned the hard way that everything you seem to see is not what it appears to be.

Today the Republican Party, led by an aggressive tea party contingent of new House members, sees gold not in “them there hills” but in “that there federal budget.” They have announced that the cure for the massive federal deficit lies in cutting programs supported by discretionary and entitlement spending. This money, this gold, will bring financial security—they think, much like those 1848 miners thought as they prospected through California.

Just as those miners were blinded by greed and short-sightedness, so are many today on the Republican side of the aisle. Today we are seeing, with crystal clarity, statistics on poverty in the U.S. that are pernicious. Numbers provided by the U.S. Census bureau and the Center for Disease control show that a cost in human terms that is staggering for a super-power.

There are 17.2 million children who live in “food insecure households.” Forty-three million people live below the poverty line—more then one out of eight Americans. Many of these people were born into poverty, “a preexisting condition” that will follow them through out their lives like a chronic illness.

Our seniors and the chronically ill are also facing a formidable task of remaining solvent as life expectancy continues to increase. While officially the statistic for people over 65 in poverty is 3.6 million (9.7%) that figure is based only on a two-person household income of below $13,014 per year. This outdated threshold clearly shows that in reality far more should be counted within the ranks of the poor, with even a modest increase in the above figure.

And, as with seniors, people faced with constant medical expenses are forced into a perpetual cycle of living from paycheck to paycheck without savings or assets to backstop their existence in case of emergencies.

Medical expenses are still the most prominent reason for families filing bankruptcies and losing their homes in the U.S. today.

The response to indisputable facts by the Republican party is to “mine” social programs for funds that, while having little impact on our national debt if cuts are made, have life-changing implications for those who depend on them.

The “gold” that the Tea party wishes to extract by cutting spending on vital services for children, the poor, and the medically challenged are done with a blind ambition and a merciless religious zeal. Their dogmatic beliefs apparently leave little room for regarding the immediate effects on fellow citizens’ ability to survive in the short term and even less thought on its long term ethical consequences that must be reconciled if we are to hold sway over moral turpitude.

Deficient in judgment. Maybe one of our worst fears were realized last week when tea party founder Judson Phillips stated that Charlie Sheen made more sense than Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner when it came to the budget.

Where do we go from here?

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