The beltway Villagers and DC press are lauding this bipartisan budget deal as some great accomplishment where the politicians are finally acting like "adults," but as David Cay Johnston told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman this Monday, the agreement is actually a big win for Republicans and a loss for the working class and the poor: "Makes Absolutely No Sense": David Cay Johnston on Budget Deal That Helps Billionaires, Not the Poor:
AMY GOODMAN: A bipartisan budget deal to avert another government shutdown comes before the Senate this week. The House approved the two-year budget agreement last week in a 332-to-94 vote. The bill eases across-the-board spending cuts, replacing them with new airline fees and cuts to federal pensions. In a concession by Democrats, it does not extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people, which is set to expire this month. Republican Congressmember Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray called the deal a win for both sides.
REP. PAUL RYAN: I think this agreement is a clear improvement on the status quo. This agreement makes sure that we don’t have a government shutdown scenario in January. It makes sure that we don’t have another government shutdown scenario in October. It makes sure that we don’t lurch from crisis to crisis.
SEN. PATTY MURRAY: Our deal puts jobs and economic growth first by rolling back sequestration’s harmful cuts to education and medical research and infrastructure investments and defense jobs for the next two years.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Republican Congressmember Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray.
The budget deal is being hailed as a breakthrough compromise for Democrats and Republicans, but not everyone supports it. Democratic Congressmember Mark Pocan of Wisconsin said in a statement, quote, "At the end of the day, the bill abandons 1.3 million Americans who desperately need unemployment insurance, and does nothing to promote economic growth or job creation. Furthermore, the legislation is paid for on the backs of the middle class and military families, while not touching the wealthiest amongst us and allowing corporations to continue to benefit from tax loopholes," he said.
Well, for more, we go to Rochester, New York, where we’re joined by David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize when he was at The New York Times. He’s currently a columnist for Tax Analysts and Al Jazeera, as well as a contributing editor at Newsweek.
David Cay Johnston, thanks so much for joining us. He’s joining us from PBS station WXXI in Rochester. Talk about the deal.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, this deal is a—actually, I think, a big win for the Paul Ryan Republicans. They will avoid the embarrassment, shame and political damage of shutting down the government, and they will obtain this from the—they obtained this from the Democrats without, as Congressman Pocan pointed out in his statement, touching at all the major issues. The corporate loopholes aren’t being closed. The tax-avoidance techniques of billionaires, who can legally live tax-free if they choose to, are not being shut down. The hedge fund and private equity managers will continue to be advantaged. And we’re going to kick 57,000 poor children out of Head Start, which means we’re going to narrow their economic futures and make all of us worse off in the future. We’re cutting a billion-and-a-half dollars from medical research to save lives. Why? Because the very richest people in America, those who have benefited most from being in this market, don’t want to pay for that kind of services. And by the way, being The War and Peace Report, the Pentagon is getting an extra $20 billion out of this deal. We already spend 42 percent of all the money in the world on our military. More money for the Pentagon? Seriously? While we are cutting off unemployment benefits and cutting medical research, reducing pensions for federal workers? This makes absolutely no sense. It will make us worse off.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the poorest Americans, David Cay Johnston? How are they affected?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, there is a war going on in this country, and it’s on the poor. And we have all sorts of ways that we are doing this. We are restricting their access to Medicaid. We are cutting food stamps dramatically in this country, or will be very soon. There is a 90-day fix for doctors who treat people who are on Medicaid. That, I suspect, will not be continued. And why would we be cutting fees to doctors who provide healthcare to people, unless, of course, you just, as Congressman Grayson once said, want them to die?
AMY GOODMAN: The budget now heads to the Senate, where it has the backing of the Democratic leadership. This is Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois urging members to vote for it when it comes up to the floor this week.
SEN. DICK DURBIN: Vote for this. Let’s move. Let’s govern. Let’s not shut down this government again. This is an opportunity. And with this opportunity, we can have a stronger national defense, a stronger country, and we can save the taxpayers money.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Democratic leader, Senator Dick Durbin.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, stronger national defense—I’m sorry, what? I mean, do we not have enough nuclear submarines to kill us all many times over with weapons against which no one is threatening us? It is just bizarre that we continue to stick to these memes that we’re not spending enough on national defense. We’re spending over $900 billion a year on national defense. Now, add to that that we—most of the world consists of our allies, who have a big military, and this just makes no sense whatsoever. Read on...