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January 23, 2011

President Obama signs Affordable Health Care Reform Act of 2010

Part 1: The past week in Congress: This past week the newly House of Representatives with its Republican majority passed what it called “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” Despite the provocative title there is little evidence that the new health care reform act will “kill” jobs. What the Affordable Health Care Act signed in December by President Obama will do is to provide coverage for some 45 million uninsured Americans and stop insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and thus help many families stay afloat in already tough times.

What will kill jobs: The same T-Party House members who led the charge to repeal the health care law now have a plan that will surely destroy massive numbers of jobs. The conservative caucus — innocuously called the Republican Study Committee (RSC) – wants to slash $2.5 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years by eliminating or cutting many programs critical to communities across the nation.


According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the required cuts (if imposed across the board) would mean more than 40 percent less for veteran’s health care, K-12 education; environmental protection; border security, and for food safety and inspection and many other vital programs including health-related research.

RSC Chairman Jim Jordan has a big stack of program cuts. Source: Ohio Politics Online

The RSC plan would also eliminate a long list of programs including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, Amtrak and federal support for intercity and high speed rail grants. The plan would immediately eliminate $45 billion in unspent stimulus funding, a move that would leave unfinished many local projects such as bridges, roads and mass transit and would leave many construction workers out in the cold.

According to CBPP’s James Horney the RSC plan “would remove substantial purchasing power from a weak economy, thereby costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and raising risks of a double-dip recession.”

Deficit Hawks? Now the supposed GOP obsession to cut the federal deficit is a rather one-sided affair. When it comes to support for teachers, firemen, police and veterans, they get out their axes. But when it comes to subsidies for the wealthy in tax and corporations suddenly concern for the deficit vanishes. Example, at the GOP’s insistence the the wealthiest 2 % percent of Americans will get $140 billion in extended Bush era tax breaks over the next 2 years. Nor do the deficit hawks mind tax breaks for Big Oil. (See previous post).

The bigger picture: Now let’s say that saner heads prevail and that such measures will never see the light of day. (There are reports that the Republican leadership is very nervous about such draconian cuts and the RSC plan doesn’t have much chance in the Senate.) And let’s also say that the recession is really over and that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continues to grow along with the stock market. Can we expect a job that the roughly 20 millions of Americans unemployed or underemployed to return to work any time soon? We will address this question in Part 2 of the War on Work.

In closing it appears that the Tea-Party fueled GOP is using the deficit as a way to remove what they don’t like — for example, National Public Radio and Television (not fair and balanced) or Amtrak (public transportation = socialism) or environmental protection (might actually stop mountain-top mining) and public education (they wealthy don’t need it) and so forth.

NPR's Robert Siegel and Nina Totenberg. Source: David Scull for The New York Times



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