The Path to Prosperity Proving to Be a Little Bumpy

By Richard Thayer

It’s been a fairly quiet two weeks on Capitol Hill as our nation’s lawmakers have taken a break from quarreling with one another and have gone home to meet with their constituents. Their absence has allowed the media to focus on other important issues like Will and Kate’s wedding, Donald Trump and President Obama’s birth certificate.

In the meantime, many House Republicans have returned to their respective districts to explain the Path to Prosperity Plan they passed just before making their exit.

If they were anticipating the red carpet treatment back home, they were in for a rude awakening.

No red carpet. Nothing even resembling a red carpet.

Yes, it seems that the Paul Ryan bill to reduce the nation’s deficit by privatizing Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security while giving away billions of dollars in tax breaks to big business and our country’s wealthiest, hasn’t received such a warm welcome back home.

Just ask Congressman Daniel Webster of Florida. It seems that the 300 constituents who showed up for his recent town hall meeting weren’t all that impressed with his fancy graphs and pie charts detailing what a great plan the Path to Prosperity is. According to the Associated Press, the first minute of that meeting was relatively tranquil.  But the next 59? Not so much. There were a lot of unfriendly questions and boos and such. Obviously they just didn’t understand what a great idea it is.

And they weren’t the only ones who didn’t seem to appreciate the plan. The unfriendly reception Congressman Webster received has been repeated in districts throughout the country. It seems that what seemed like a super-cool idea in Washington isn’t turning out to be such a swell idea out there in the real world. As a matter of fact, the reception has been so hostile that many legislators decided they wouldn’t have town hall meetings at all.

I wonder why people are so hostile?

Could it be that they are adamantly opposed to our giving massive tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest while slashing services to the elderly, our children, and to low and middle income families?

Could it be they’re upset because the bill doesn’t reduce the debt all that much? Analysis of the Paul Ryan bill (HR 34) shows that although it cuts spending by about $4.3 trillion, the tax breaks it would give to the wealthy would amount to around $4.2 trillion.

Could it be that people are all in an uproar over the bill because it would force seniors to pay a lot more for a lot less health care and would transform Medicare into an inadequately funded voucher program?

Could it be that people are ticked off because although the Republicans claim they want to create more jobs and grow the economy, the bill would actually eliminate an estimated 1.7 to 2.2 million jobs over a two year period?

Do you suppose Republicans have received such unfriendly welcomes back home because their Path to Prosperity would freeze federal employees’ step increases and pay raises over the next five years; that FERS employees would end up paying 12 percent of their salaries to Social Security; and Civil Service Retirement employees contributions would increase from 7 to 12.5 percent?

Yes, there’s that and a whole lot more for the average American citizen to be dissatisfied with. Several different polls have already shown that the vast majority of Americans want Congress to leave Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security alone.

To learn more about ways Congress can balance the budget in a way that’s fair to everyone, check out the AFL-CIO’s Principles for the Fiscal Year 2012.

You may not have had an opportunity to speak with your congressman during their Easter hiatus. You can still contact them and let them know how you feel about the Ryan bill (pill?) by clicking here.


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