November 3, 2005

Senator Reed's $3,000,000,000 Choice

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to Jim Baron in the Pawtucket Times, Senator Jack Reed thinks that the budget bill presently before the Senate is "a recipe for disaster”. Here are the programs of greatest concern to the Senator…

The Senate bill, Reed said, would lop $5.7 billion from Medicare and $4.2 billion in Medicaid, while the House bill would chop $14.3 billion in student loans, $4.9 billion in child support and $844 million in Food Stamps.
Let me offer a way for Senator Reed to protect part of that funding. In section 3005 of the budget reconciliation bill that Senator Reed is referring to, Congress allocates $3,000,000,000 to buy people digital-to-analog converters that cost about $50 apiece…
(c) PAYMENTS AUTHORIZED- The Secretary of Commerce or the Secretary's designee shall make payments from the Fund in the following amounts, for the following programs, and in the following order:

(1) $3,000,000,000 for a program to assist consumers in the purchase of converter boxes that convert a digital television signal to an analog television signal, and any amounts unexpended or unobligated at the conclusion of the program shall be used for the program described in paragraph (3)….

If Senator Reed really believes that the programs he mentions in the Times article are in dire straits, then he should introduce an amendment to spend the $3,000,000,000 being spent on converter boxes more wisely.

Senator Reed has a choice. He can choose to…
1) Spend $3,000,000,000 to increase funding to Medicare, Medicaid, student loans, child support or food stamps,
2) Spend $3,000,000,000 to reduce the deficit, or
3) Spend $3,000,000,000 to subsidize the purchase of digital-to-analog television converters.

Senator Reed shouldn’t talk about raising taxes if he chooses to throw $3,000,000,000 of taxpayer money away on choice 3.

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Andrew, you are exactly right. But the truth is, it's the issue Senator Reed and the Democrats want. They are not interested in finding alternative ways to fund their priorities. It's better for them to scare the elderly and howl about cold-hearted Republicans who don't care about the poor. I say cut the converters AND the social spending, and return the $3 billion to the states, where identifying the poor and assessing their needs will be more efficient.

Posted by: rightri at November 3, 2005 11:15 PM