House Republicans met today in an attempt to scrape together votes to pass House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) plan for raising the debt ceiling. Boehner pulled the bill from the floor last night when it became apparent that he didn’t have to votes to proceed, and has made it even more right-wing today in an attempt to drum up support.
As we’ve been noting, Boehner’s plan would batter the social safety net, forcing trillions of dollars in entitlement cuts and the passage of a balanced budget amendment, in order to raise the debt ceiling again when such a move becomes necessary in six months. As the New York Times put it, “Because the first round of cuts [in Boehner's plan] would eviscerate discretionary programs…the second round of cuts would need to come from Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other safety-net programs. To get cuts that deep in 10 years would require cutting the benefits of current retirees and beneficiaries or gutting health care reform, or savaging the safety net for low-income Americans, or some combination of the three.”
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Boehner’s plan could cause one of the most dramatic increases in poverty and hardship of any law in history. Boehner’s bill actually eliminates a 26-year-old measure protecting the poor from budget cuts. This would have an adverse effect all across the country, including in Boehner’s district where, as Half in Ten’s Melissa Boteach and Jessica Liu found, hundreds of thousands of people rely on the social safety net that Boehner wants to eviscerate:
– 180,000 people are on Medicare or Medicaid, comprising 27 percent of his district.
– 4,000 households access some form of public housing assistance.
– 90,000 or 13.9 percent of the district lives below the poverty line.
– Approximately 70,000 households receive Social Security benefits.
– Over 30,000 households are eligible for the SNAP (food stamp) program and 20,000 low-income children are eligible for food and nutrition services.
“The House plan would result in an enormous increase in poverty and hardship while keeping Congress mired in a never-ending debate over default crises instead of a focus on jobs,” Boteach and Liu wrote. And Boehner’s constituents would certainly not be spared the pain.