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Friday, November 18, 2005

Well that was sensible.

For folks who weren't paying attention, the U.S. House of Representatives passed some rather substantial reductions in spending last night. [NOTE: The preceding link has been on the fritz so here is an alternative report courtesy of NPR. Hey, you can call me a caustic fucker, but I backup what I say pretty thoroughly.] How substantial, you ask? Oh... to the tune of fifty-billion dollars, or so. You know, what folks keep in their couch cushions.

You might be wondering where these cuts came from. Well, as you might expect from the party of compassion the cuts came primarily from domestic programs aimed at helping the poor. Or, as the Washington Post sums it up:

The House narrowly approved a broad five-year budget plan early this morning that squeezes programs for the poor, for college students and for farmers, handing Republican leaders a hard-fought victory after weeks of resistance in GOP ranks.

The plan, which would save the government just under $50 billion, passed 217 to 215, with 14 Republicans joining all House Democrats in opposition. Just last week, Republican leaders were forced to pull the bill from consideration after it became clear they lacked the votes for passage.

So, this was a bill that involved so many cuts, of such a severe nature, that Republican party discipline broke down. That's a good sign right there. For slightly more detail on the cuts, please check out the helpful info-graphic that I lifted from an unsuspecting Washington Post, and will drop as soon as they request me to.

Now, the Republicans report that these cuts are intended to manage and, indeed, to help eliminate the ridiculous budget deficit the United States is presently running. This of course is a budget deficit that the Republicans ran up so, you know, it's nice to see their sense of fiscal responsibility kicking in. Better late than never, I suppose. And, I guess we can't blame them for cutting domestic programs. I mean, priorities have to be made, and some programs are just more important than others. Let's just consider some of the vital programs that Republicans, as responsible stewards of the public trust, just couldn't cut:

-A system of secret prisons where we can keep foreign nationals (and, hell, maybe Americans we don't like much) without having to deal with pesky human rights inspections.

-Training for our corps of CIA-employed torturers. Oh, wait, sorry, since President Bush says that we don't torture, I guess we'll rename these folks "cruise directors." My mistake.

-The purchase of cruel and deadly white phosphorous munitions that we did not did use in Iraq.

-An essentially non-functional, but kinda neat-sounding, national missile defense program that should prove highly effective in protecting U.S. citizens from an array of current threats.

-A huge cut in taxes to stimulate American business into producing more tax revenue. Believe it or not, this approach has a long and illustrious history of failure. But, in the U.S., we're determined people and we'll keep on trying an idea even if we've shown it to be stupid.

-Reimbursing religious groups for providing charity during the recent hurricane Katrina disaster. Which, you know, only makes sense given that churches are tax-exempt in the first place and certainly have other things to spend their money on. You know- things that the government should obviously be subsidizing.

-Developing a federal set of standards for the teaching of intelligent design, the "theory" that's so revolutionary virtually the entire scientific community rejects it as utter nonsense.

So, as you can see, the Republicans definitely have their priorities straight.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go kill myself.

As a side note: I got a laugh this morning when I noticed that the Wikipedia entry for the U.S. House of Representatives began with the following text: "GET A LIFE LUKES. The Unibooooooo ted States House of gay Representatives is one of the two houses of the Congress of the United States, the other being the Senate." I imagine it's been corrected by now, or will be soon.


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