House Leaders Push Effort to Slash Funding for Poor

May 7, 2012

by Jeremy Leaming

The severely conservative U.S. House of Representatives is peddling yet another effort to slash services for the poor.

As TPM’s Sahil Kapur reports “House Republicans are set to advance legislation to replace automatic defense spending cuts they agreed to last year with cuts to programs for the poor and working class.”

Yes, the House’s plan is likely only to be symbolic, as Kapur notes the legislation is expected to go nowhere in the Senate. Yet it provides, as if anyone needed it, another example of the conservative party’s extreme opposition to any policy that might raise taxes on the super wealthy.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, (pictured) the House Budget Committee’s Ranking Member, in a May 3 report blasted the proposal for advancing “costly additional tax breaks for millionaires while finding savings by ending the Medicare guarantee for seniors, slashing investments that strengthen our economy, and shredding the social safety net.”

As noted here, a string of commentators have argued that the conservative party has been retooled to focus solely on protecting tax cuts for the wealthy, even as the middle class shrinks and poverty grows.

A recent study from political scientists at the University of Georgia and New York University reflects a drastically changed political party, noting that the “Republican Party is the most conservative it has been in a century,” NPR’s Frank James reports.

In a piece for The Huffington Post, Mike Lux said the political scientists “are underestimating.”

“The 1911-12 congressional Republicans, after all, at least had some Teddy Roosevelt Republicans still in the Congress, so while a distinct minority, the party had some reformers and moderates in their caucuses,” Lux wrote. “No, I think you would have to go back into the 1800s, into the Republican Congress swept into power with William McKinley’s 1896 election, to find a party as thoroughly reactionary as this one.”

Meanwhile an increasing number of studies confirms that this is likely not a good time to alter services for the vulnerable. Last fall, for example, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2010 there “were 46.2 million in people in poverty,” representing the “fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in 52 years of which poverty estimates have been published.”

[image via Senate Democrats]