Rewriting the Constitution to Force Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid…

Instead of acting to create jobs, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to effectively force steep cuts in Social Security and Medicare by voting to rewrite the Constitution.

All but one of California’s GOP Representatives voted for a so-called “Balanced Budget Amendment,” backing an agenda that would cripple the economy, gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while protecting tax breaks for millionaires and prosperous corporations. The vote among California Representatives was party line, with virtually all GOP Representatives, including Rep. Dan Lungren of Sacramento, voting for the constitutional amendment (Rep. Dreier was the lone CA GOP to vote against). Most Democrats voted against the measure, with the exceptions of Reps. Costa and Cardoza of the Central Valley.

We are pleased that the Republican House leadership’s attempt to write the destruction of Medicare and Medicaid into the Constitution failed, but sorely disappointed that so many California Representatives voted for it. At a time when we need to create jobs and improve our health care system and options, it’s just troubling that the proposals in the House of Representatives would do the opposite.

BACKGROUND

House Republican leaders held a vote on Friday for a radical balanced budget amendment. However, their proposed amendment is “balanced” in name only. Their dangerous proposal would devastate the economy and slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

· According to Macroeconomic Advisors, “If a balanced budget amendment were being enforced for Fiscal Year 2012, “the effect on the economy would be catastrophic.” If the budget were balanced through spending cuts, those cuts would total about $1.5 trillion in 2012 alone, which would result in the loss of 15 million MORE job losses, double the unemployment rate from 9 percent to approximately 18 percent, and cause the economy to shrink by about 17 percent. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 11/8/11]

· Chambers: Balanced Budget Amendment Would Do More Harm Than Good. John Chambers, head of Standard & Poor’s sovereign ratings division, said that passing a balanced budget amendment would do more harm than good: “In general, we think that fiscal rules like these just diminish the flexibility of the government to respond. Also, when Congress has a long track record of trying to bind itself with various rules, but the rules when it comes to – when push comes to shove, they don’t bind very much. So, it would be-even if you had a balanced budget amendment you have some questions about its credibility. And it would just reduce your flexibility in a crisis.” [Washington Post, 8/9/11]

· Balanced Budget Amendment Would Force Severe Cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Proponents of the balanced budget measure have pointed to a budget plan prepared by the Republican Steering Committee as the blueprint for achieving a balanced budget. Using that as the basis for analysis, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projects that $1.2 trillion would be cut from Social Security from 2018 through 2021 and another $1.25 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 11/15/11]

· Balanced Budget Amendment: Great for the 1%; Devastating for the 99%. If Republican leaders were actually serious about balancing the budget, they wouldn’t be forcing folks on Main Street to do all the sacrificing while letting Wall Street and corporations that ship jobs overseas completely off the hook. By changing the rules to require two-thirds votes of the House and Senate to waive the balanced budget requirement or to raise the federal debt ceiling, a willful minority could continue to extract unreasonable demands and hold the entire U.S. economy hostage.

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