There are myriad variations of the famous quote that says “the measure of society is how it treats its weakest members,” and each of them loosely follows Jesus Christ’s admonition to care for the poor and infirm within your midst. The late Hubert Humphrey equated the “measure” with the “moral test of government” and “how it treats those in the dawn of life (children), twilight of life (elderly), and those in the shadow of life (sick, needy, and the handicapped),” and since Roosevelt’s New Deal, America has treated its weakest members with a degree of compassion denoting high moral standards. It is telling, then, that after over seventy years, Republicans are attempting to reduce America’s moral standing to a level more closely aligned with depravity and wanton greed with their Draconian budget cuts that primarily effect the poor, children, elderly, and infirm. If Americans were repulsed by Paul Ryan’s severe Path to Prosperity budget that ends Medicare and slashes assistance to the weakest members of society, they will be appalled at presumptive Republican nominee Willard Romney’s assault on decency and tens-of-millions of Americans with a budget that makes Ryan’s plan appear munificent.
Romney’s budget is meant to reduce the nation’s deficit with vicious cuts to health care for the poor and disabled, Border Patrol, food inspections, education, NASA, homeland security, food stamps, unemployment insurance, veteran’s pensions, the FBI, Medicaid, government workforce, family planning, and refundable tax credits for the working poor in an attempt to cut government spending by over fourteen percent by 2016. The broad cuts to nearly every non-military program are the definition of moral degeneration and do nothing to contradict Romney’s reputation as an amoral and loathsome human being whose primary focus is amassing and concealing wealth. However, Romney’s wealthy elitism aside, his alleged concern for reducing the deficit fails the test when his spending on the military and tax cuts for the rich are figured into the equation.
Romney’s budget increases defense spending by $100 billion to fund his pre-planned war with Iran, and it is in keeping with his contention that might makes right and that America needs increased “military spending to ensure that the United States can assert military dominance over other nations.” One of Willard’s dreams is “prioritizing the full deployment of a multilayered national ballistic missile defense system” that Ronald Reagan envisioned and discovered was unrealistic and so costly it was abandoned as a science fiction fantasy. Throughout all of Willard’s proposals to increase military spending and imaginary Star Wars defensive debacles, he never addresses how his combat acumen will reduce the deficit or how he will pay for it any more than how he will pay for massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations.
In Romney’s latest tax plan, the lowest income Americans pay more and the wealthy pay less; much less than the present rates and it includes making the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy permanent. In fact, working Americans earning between $10-20 thousand annually pay 1% more and Americans making between $500,000 and $1 million pay 7% less leaving the wealthiest with huge tax cuts. Under a Romney plan, the wealthy get a 20% tax cut on top of the Bush cuts, and according to the Tax Policy Center, will add $3 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. Romney claims the tax cuts will be paid for by faster economic growth because job creators will finally start hiring if they receive more cuts such as eliminating investment income tax, repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax, and a 20% cut in corporate tax. Regardless of Romney’s “fuzzy math,” if the rich pay less, someone will pay more, and if no-one pays more, the government shrinks. If the government shrinks, then government beneficiaries like the elderly, sick, and poor will definitely lose. Under Willard’s plan, the rich pay less and government shrinks sending tens-of-millions of Americans into abject poverty with no hope of surviving.
The whole Romney budget is illogical and short on details if deficit reduction is the really the goal, but Jim Horney, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a theory why Willard and Paul Ryan’s budgets are filled with unknowns. He says, “There’s a good reason why Ryan’s budget and the Romney budget don’t have details. If People knew what would actually have to be done to accomplish what they’re saying should be done, it’s hard to imagine there would be widespread support for it.” Even hardline deficit hawks will have trouble supporting a Romney or Ryan plan in reality because the devastation to the poor is immeasurable. Just cutting Medicaid at the level Paul Ryan’s budget proposes, 14 to 27 million poor and elderly Americans would be left destitute and Romney’s plan is much more severe. It is hard to imagine very many Republicans swallowing 20% domestic cuts to programs such as health research, homeland security, food inspection, heating and housing assistance, the FBI, air traffic control, veterans’ health care, or Centers for Disease Control, but those programs are on the chopping block in Romney’s budget and lawmakers will have difficulty selling those cuts to their constituents.
Romney is not serious about cutting the deficit, but he is serious about enriching the wealthy with tax cuts that surpass his Draconian budget cuts and add trillions to the national debt. The cuts he is proposing portend a bleak picture for working Americans, but especially children, the elderly, and the government employees who will certainly lose their jobs as entire agencies and programs are decimated and that does not include the various sub-sets of the workforce such as teachers, healthcare workers, and researchers. The cuts would be less-offensive if the sacrifice was shared across all income groups, but they are not and only the wealthy prosper under a Romney budget.
Society does have a moral responsibility to care for its weakest members, and until Republicans took control of the House, the government was doing a decent job providing for the poor, children, veterans, and seniors, but morally bankrupt Republicans have sought to eliminate the safety nets and lifelines that provide food and shelter for millions of Americans in the guise of deficit reduction. Romney takes the Republicans’ immorality to a new level that will send millions of Americans into poverty, ill-health, and desperation which is acceptable to him if the wealthy reap the benefits. Romney has attempted to portray himself as a “severe conservative,” and one can safely assume that lurching to the right of Paul Ryan’s ultra-conservative budget qualifies Willard Romney as Teabagger, extremely severe. For a clue just how severe Romney’s budget is, Republican lobbyist Jim Dyer said Romney’s cuts are so drastic, “it’s just not sustainable,” and when a GOP lobbyists says it is not sustainable, it is safe to say something is terribly wrong. As Americans learn of Romney’s plans they will take the moral high ground and send his severe form of conservatism home to count his immeasurable wealth because they will never elect him as president.