The Reaping

Rep. Ed Markey missed the mark when he said the GOP budget is like the Hunger Games

Rep. Ed Markey derided the Republican House budget this week as "the legislative version of the Hunger Games."

REP. ED MARKEY: The Republican Budget reads like the legislative version of the Hunger Games, pitting American families in an unfair and losing battle against billionaires and big oil. The Republican Budget: One, dolls out tax breaks that the wealthiest don’t need and we can’t afford. Two, gives away $4 billion in annual tax breaks for oil companies. Three, abandons Grandma and Grandma, forcing them to pay more for healthcare or forgo coverage altogether. Four, takes food out of the mouths of hungry children.

Just yesterday, Senate Republicans refused to fix a broken system that allows CEOs to pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. And here in the House, the Republican leadership has called the Buffet Rule a ‘hoax’.  But the real hoax is the Republican budget.

G.O.P. used to stand for the Grand Old Party. Now it stands for Guaranteed Oil Profits. Now it stands for Get Old People. Now it stands for Greed Over Principle. One hundred years after the Titanic sank, the Republican Budget throws working Americans overboard, while saving the lifeboats for the wealthiest. The Hunger Games, that’s what the Republicans are playing. For the entertainment of the billionaires and oil companies we are now going to sacrifice the programs for the neediest children in our country. I urge my colleagues to vote no.

But Markey misleads—Panem, the post-America dystopia described in Suzanne Collins’ novel, is highly centralized, highly taxed, and its citizens’ economic choices highly restricted.

Ryan’s budget, meanwhile, would overhaul Medicare into a premium-support system while retaining traditional fee-for-service Medicare. The level of premium support would be determined by a competitive bidding process, in which insurers would compete to meet the government’s minimum defined benefit at lowest costs. A mechanism would be put in place to lower Medicare costs through competition and consumer choice.

To drive down costs, conversely, Obama’s health program relied on a centralized and unaccountable Independent Payment Advisory Board, a component of the new health care law under which 15 political appointees would be given sweeping powers to control Medicare costs.

Last month, experts warned that IPAB could lead to rationed health care, before the cost control measure was ultimately repealed by the Republican House, with support from Democrats. Medicare spending is by far the biggest driver of the national debt.