NPR Examines GOP Basis for Medicaid Spending Reductions
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Tuesday examined the arguments some lawmakers have made in favor of reducing spending on Medicaid and other programs for low-income U.S. residents (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 11/22).
The House on Friday voted 217-215 to approve a five-year budget bill (HR 4241) that would save the federal government almost $50 billion, with about $12 billion in Medicaid spending reductions over five years (California Healthline, 11/18).
According to NPR, Republican lawmakers have said that they are "targeting programs for the poor mainly because that's where the money is," but they also are "taking aim" at such programs for ideological reasons.
However, liberal analysts cite evidence that programs such as Medicaid and Food Stamps have beneficial effects, and point to examples of limited state spending on the poor.
The NPR segment also includes comments from:
- Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.);
- Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and
- Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) ("Morning Edition," NPR, 11/22).
The House's 217-215 vote last week to approve $50 billion in budget cuts, including reductions in Medicaid, "symbolized all that is wrong with Washington," columnist E.J. Dionne writes in the Washington Post.
"Republicans who pride themselves on being moderate had their arms twisted into backing the bill, partly on the basis of promises that many of the cuts it contained wouldn't survive in House-Senate negotiations," Dionne writes. He adds, "If our democracy were functional, the House majority that wants a balanced approach to cutting the deficit -- Democrats and middle-of-the-road Republicans -- could hash out the trade-offs between tax cuts and spending cuts."
However, "the Republican leadership does not want to revisit the tax cuts" passed since President Bush took office, and the "system guarantees that moderation ... is the one approach that's impossible," Dionne writes. He concludes, "If we want to sell reason and moderation to our Iraqi allies, we'd be more persuasive if we could have reasonable debates ourselves about how to fund our government and how to conduct our policy in their country" (Dionne, Washington Post, 11/22).