Republicans Want To Take Money From The Elderly And Injured To Pay For Roads

It takes a pair of brass ones to tell the American people that some of the ways we should pay to fix our crumbling roads and bridges is to take money away from Social Security, people’s retirements and money spent on the disabled. But if you’re Mitch McConnell and the Republicans, the message for everyone not in the 1% is “Fuck you”:

Senate Republicans have floated a package of options to fund a multi-year extension of the Highway Trust Fund that includes a controversial change to federal employee retirement plans, according to a list obtained by The Washington Post.

The total package of spending cuts and program changes would raise about $80 billion, enough to pay for between three to four years of federal funding for road, bridge and transit projects while fulfilling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise to introduce a long-term highway bill this month. The retirement proposal would raise more than $30 billion of that total by cutting the rate of return on a popular retirement investment for federal employees.

We could recoup $30 billion by closing a loophole or two in corporate taxes. Or maybe stop pissing money away on a plane that doesn’t work. Or maybe by a number of other means that doesn’t screw the middle class.

But then again, if it doesn’t screw the middle class, Republicans aren’t really interested in it.

It’s worth taking a moment to point out that paying for the Highway Trust Fund didn’t used to be a problem. Politicians used to LOVE spending money on bridges and dams and roads. All that delicious government money would flow right back into the local economy and voters were happy little campers. But now that Republicans are dedicated heart and soul to crippling the economy so they can blame it on Obama, paying for infrastructure has become another way of attacking government workers.

Fortunately, even some Republicans (and most Democrats) are opposed to the nakedly cruel scheme:

“It’s not gonna happen,” Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) said when asked about changes to the federal employee retirement plan.

“Anybody who knows anything about where these negotiations are knows that this isn’t happening,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

It should be noted that Sen. Inhofe is suuuuper conservative and this seems to be beyond the pale even for him. So that’s a good sign.

But not content to just go after federal employees, Republicans are also considering “adjusting” Social Security, a scheme which is being strongly opposed by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. You’d think that such a group wouldn’t be necessary considering how popular and vital these two programs are but this is America and we have an entire political party dedicated to ending both of them.

Part of the proposed plan would be to stop SS payments to any senior with an outstanding warrant for their arrest. In other words, if you’ve worked your whole life and paid into Social Security but have a parking ticket you never paid, you deserve to lose your money because Republicans hate you.

The other part is even worse. Right now, some people on disability can still collect it while working in a reduced capacity or even if they work full-time as a test (just in case you try to work for a few years and find out that your disability does not permit it). Those people are also eligible for unemployment if they lose their job (through downsizing or whatever) just like everyone else. But Republicans want to take away their right to collect unemployment because… well they don’t really need a logical reason to make life worse for people on disability.

Roads need to be fixed. Bridges need to be repaired or replaced. Dams need to be shored up. There is more than enough money in this country to do this, and the people who benefit the most from a working infrastructure shouldn’t be spared from paying for it. But as far as Republicans are concerned, retirees and the injured can go live and die in the street before they would take one extra penny from the rich. Just like Jesus would have wanted.


Featured image via Gage Skidmore/flickr