News & Politics

Paul Krugman: The GOP's Assault on Working Americans Is Just Beginning

Republicans are coming for it all, from Medicaid to Social Security.

Photo Credit: YouTube Screengrab

The greatest trick the GOP ever pulled was convincing the mainstream media and much of the country that it ever gave a damn about the deficit. For eight years, Mitch McConnell and company obstructed the Obama administration at every turn, citing concerns that social spending would increase the debt. So what did they do as soon as they assumed power? They passed legislation in the dead of night that would blow a $1 trillion hole in the budget.

For the New York Times' Paul Krugman, it's all part of a calculated scheme to gut the country's social safety net, or what little remains of it. The GOP is attempting a "bait-and-switch" on the entire country, first passing tax cuts that will invariably increase the deficit and then citing the "red ink they themselves produced" to slash essential programs for the poor and the elderly.

What's so remarkable about Republicans' latest gambit, Krugman explains, is that they're signaling their switch before their mark has taken the bait. When asked about his refusal to renew the Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers 9 million who need it most, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) huffed: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.”

"Who, exactly, was he talking about, and which programs are consuming these billions and billions and trillions?" Krugman wonders. "Was he talking about food stamps, most of whose beneficiaries are children, elderly or disabled? (And many of the rest are working hard, just not earning enough to get by.) Was he talking about the earned-income tax credit, which rewards only those who work?...The list goes on."

Hatch isn't the only Republican in the Senate openly antagonizing the working class. While defending his party's plutocratic tax bill last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) offered the following jewel: “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

This is how it starts. A manufactured budget crisis is looming, and it won't be long before Republicans target "big-ticket" items like Medicare and Social Security.

"Oh, they’ll find euphemisms to describe what they’re doing, talking solemnly about the need for 'entitlement reform' as an act of fiscal responsibility—while their huge budget-busting tax cut for the rich gets shoved down the memory hole," Krugman cautions. "But whatever words they use to cloak the reality of the situation, Republicans have given their donors what they wanted—and now they’re coming for your benefits."

Read Paul Krugman's column at the New York Times.

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.

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