Ga.’s Tom Price, at the nexus of ideology and policy

Tom PriceWhen U.S. Rep. Tom Price announced more than a year ago that he would not run for Georgia’s soon-to-be vacant Senate seat, he surprised some people. The Roswell Republican was considered the frontrunner, and you don’t often see an ambitious politician turn down a shot to join “the world’s most exclusive club,” as the Senate styles itself.

Price also has a reputation as a savvy strategist, however, and subsequent developments demonstrate why. When Congress reconvenes in January, Price will be rewarded with the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee, the position that Paul Ryan artfully leveraged into a spot on the 2012 presidential ticket. Based on what Price is telling reporters in Washington, he is fully committed to implementing the budget approach that Ryan championed.

Circumstances, however, are quite a bit different. Under Ryan, Republicans could pass annual budget proposals that they knew had no chance of being implemented because Harry Reid ran the Senate. The Ryan budgets were viewed as political posturing, and it was hard to tell which policies were meant to be taken seriously and which were more or less wishful thinking.

Now, with Republicans in control of both the Senate and House, Price has an opportunity that Ryan did not. He is positioned perfectly to begin translating GOP ideology into policy, significantly altering the relationship between the American people and their government.

Among other things, the Ryan budget called for a massive shift in the federal tax structure, $5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade, $129 billion in cuts to Medicare, significant cuts in Pell grants to help low-income Americans go to college, and significant increases in Pentagon spending.

It also included a plan to push new retirees into a privatized version of Medicare. The system would operate much as Obamacare operates, with senior citizens buying private-sector insurance using government-provided subsidies or vouchers. Last week, Price described that approach to Medicare as “settled policy” among Republicans, and suggested that under his leadership, House Republicans wouldn’t back away at all from the Ryan approach.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of the Ryan spending cuts would affect those Americans already struggling, with major reductions in programs such as food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit, once a favorite of Ronald Reagan but now considered a liberal giveaway program. In addition, every independent analysis that I’ve seen of the Ryan budget concludes that it would raise taxes on the middle class while significantly slashing taxes on the wealthy.

Until now, the GOP has been able to sell two different versions of itself to two different audiences: Within the movement, and within the conservative press, it has advocated a much more aggressive, even radical approach than it has communicated to the general public. However, now that its proposals have a much greater chance of becoming law, they’re going to be scrutinized much more closely.

With incomes of the top 1 percent growing four to five times faster than for the rest of America, and with median household incomes falling rapidly, I think it’s going to be a very hard sell.

Reader Comments 0

149 comments
EdUktr
EdUktr

Rep. Price can look forward to a primary challenge when 2016 rolls around. 

His vote to fund the government through next year, and thereby gut any chance of stopping amnesty in the new Congress, was a stab in the back to the American worker and those of us who believe in laws and national borders.

GaBlue
GaBlue

@EdUktr

Hey Sparky... It's his JOB to fund the government. Don't fret, though. The Republicans hid some goodies in there that benefit only them and their oligarchy. They just don't want to broadcast that. Do you really think they'd vote for anything that didn't put more money in their own pockets? Bless your heart.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Readers, the Republican political agenda is causing much too much stress in young families, through to those productive citizens now in old age. Even children have been adversely affected by the Republican ideological agenda of "Everyman and woman for him or herself, even in this age of total interconnectedness.


The moguls of corporations have taken their share of pension money from their employees' pension benefits, in large part, and they have persisted in giving all but management adequate income.  In the public sector, Republican legislators have cut public service jobs to the bone and have reduced the pension and health care benefits of this low paid segment of our society.


They want to repeal Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare.  Young men and women in their 30s and 40s are dying of cancer, strokes, and heart attacks that usually happen to much older people because of the stresses placed on them by the Republican hierarchial vision of humanity.  This is inhumane treatment of hard working American citizens.


You will, indeed, be foolish if you vote to elect more Republicans to public office throughout our state and nation.  Surely, you have noticed how Republican legislators have all voted in bloc to uphold the puppet masters' (corporate and legislative Republican leaders) self-serving vision for our nation.  That vision is not democratic.  It is, in fact, inhumane.

Buttercup23
Buttercup23

This is what the Puppet Masters of the Republican Party want and this is what's on their agenda..some of which are already being implemented.  www.sanders.senate.gov/koch-brothers  Medicare is at the top of their list to destroy with a voucher system.  Read it and weep.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I just read this column in the today's paper version of the AJC, meaning that I could give it more time for reflection.


I would not be at all surprised to learn that Rep. Tom Price was placed into position by some of the top corporate rulers of this nation, and the Republicans legislators who are in bed with them politically, to be the rightful heir to the Chairmanship of the House Budget Committee to get passed what has been on their wish list for years.  There will be much money behind fooling the American people once again to support what this now very wealthy legislator puts before the House Budget Committee for passage.


Citizens, if you have not used your minds in the past to look deeper into how the very nature of our democracy is being transformed by those of wealth and power on the Right, please start seeing what is happening now.  This is dangerous stuff about to happen.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@GaBlue 


Unfortunately, Tom Price is from a district in Georgia of the wealthy elite who vote for him time after time.  They do not represent the masses in Georgia, but this man (or this puppet to the corporate puppet masters whom you mentioned) will now control much of the policy direction for our nation, which has been developed by major Republican donors and policy makers (in secret), such as the Koch Brothers and those who are aligned through the aid of ALEC, and elsewhere, in the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress.  


I should have written, more definitively, that he was probably geared for that position by the top corporate masters of this nation years ago and now has finally made it there, by foregoing running for U. S. Senator from Georgia - directions probably dictated to him from above.

GaBlue
GaBlue

@MaryElizabethSings

Yes. In his first public town hall meeting as congressman of the district vacated by Johnny Isakson and Newt Gingrich before him, he trotted out a flippin' PIE CHART explaining why Congress must -- urgently and at the earliest opportunity -- privatize Social Security. This was before the crash. DANG, wasn't it a good thing that didn't happen?  He has only ever worked for the benefit of his buddies in big finance.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@GaBlue 


You've got that right.  And, he has no sensitivity for what blacks in Georgia have gone through for generations.  He's a physician straight out of Michigan and has no understanding of Georgians, white or black except those who are of the ultrawealthy, who isolate themselves from all others.


I think he is smart enough, however, to be dangerous to the continuation of our democratic republic which reflects the true will of the people.  If his kind come to represent what this nation stands for we are in serious trouble of holding onto our Republic, as Benjamin Franklin warned.

GaBlue
GaBlue

@MaryElizabethSings

Of course he was "put into position." He's never done anything meaningful for the public sector in his tenure as a public servant.  The Brothers Koch have weekend org.. er, parties for the legislators they control on some of their properties. These are usually top secret and well-secured; the media can't get near them. A few years ago, a reporter in California found out the where/when of one such gathering. I called Tom Price's office just to see if they'd confess to his whereabouts. The DC office said, "He's in Marietta today." The local office said, "He's in Washington today."  This guy makes $174,000 + sweet perks and govt health care OFF OF US, for doing little more than telling us the President is bad. And that's chump change to him. Lunch money. Why are we paying someone who doesn't work for us? He works for billionaires. We're the chumps.

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

Rep. Price (recall Greg Stillson in "Dead Zone" movie) is convinced of his superior knowledge. Granted, it includes few original ideas. Latching on to Ryan's plan is a bad idea.

The problem Ryan never got is that government is a key component of any robust economy. When he wants to rip out that part of the economy in the name of austerity, he will revive the pure meaning of the word "austere" and so many people will suffer.

There won't be a middle class to pick on, but there will be such a large number of people directly effected and this doesn't have to happen.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@hamiltonAZ


Very well said.  Thank you.  Balance is the missing ingredient in Ryan's thinking and in Price's thinking.

lvg
lvg

GOP budget plan:

Tax cuts for the 1%

Cut all benefits for the 49%;

Increase defense spending;

Subsidies for big oil;

Screw the middle class


scrappy-22
scrappy-22

GOP... they truly do want to turn us in a feudalistic society again, don't they? Would probably love to implement some of those  midevil 'jails' for those that dare to question the word of god too. 


Seriously, how can so many people be fooled by these people? And for so long?    

GaBlue
GaBlue

@scrappy-22

That's EXACTLY what they're doing. Modern corporate feudalism, in which fewer and fewer companies own more and more of everything.  Forget what "rights" you have under the government. You obey your corporate master or you're in the street starving. They own the legislators, they write the laws that protect them from consumers and employees. Why do you think they're SO ANGRY at the idea that people's health insurance (very lives) could become disconnected from our corporate servitude?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@GaBlue 


People cannot see the correlation between today's corporate bosses and the aristocracy of the Old World who put the debtors in Debtors Prisons, when it was their working conditions and class structure that really put them there.  Tom Price and his kind have made much money on the government as others have suffered.  This is the opposite MO of our Founding Fathers who went in debt personally to form a union to serve the best interests of all the people. 

GaBlue
GaBlue

Dr. Price has doubled his net worth since giving up the practice of medicine to become a public servant. That's no small feat since American doctors still have the burden of keeping Jaguar Land Rover Limited in business, and must charge us accordingly.

Given the number of days he spends working (vs. moonlighting regularly for TV appearances in which he always, always looks FABulous, and weekending at the private ranch of the Brothers Kochomazov), I'd say he's landed a pretty cushy deal. Setting bones and putting pins in hips is so tedious next to the glamour of television!

While he's at it, he'd like to prove what a great medical man he is by doing everything he can to ensure that people of limited means (and a decidedly less fabulous wardrobe) cannot afford to bother his doctor buddies with their injuries and ailments. Let's keep the top shelf on the top shelf, shall we? Everyone else can roll down into the sewer as far as the very dapper, and well-maintained Dr. Price is concerned.

Brosephus
Brosephus

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/01/14/federal-travel-and-conferences-spending-down-as-lawmakers-consider-more-restrictions/

Federal agencies have slashed spending on travel and conferences in the aftermath of several high-profile abuses, but some lawmakers said Tuesday the government must be careful not to go overboard by restricting productive gatherings that improve government services...

New rules put in place by the Office of Management and Budget have resulted in sharply curtailed travel and conference spending, more oversight over what money is spent and increased use of technology to train employees instead of flying them to expensive hotels.

So, that cut in travel and entertainment has happened and spending is down.  Do we get to address the idea of funding enforcement to go after fraud, Down In Albany?

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Brosephus How much of the current budget is earmarked for enforcement already? With a 25% error rate, it's low hanging fruit.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Brosephus @DownInAlbany How about having them do their jobs?  Is that too much to ask?  You don't know how much the DO spend, only that they should spend more.  How stupid is THAT?

Paul42
Paul42

@DownInAlbany 

Travel and entertainment come out of the operations and maintenance appropriation.  Enforcement funds include things like the actual people to work the cases, follow them through and put a stop to improper payments and recover payments made in error.  Funding for personnel comes from the personnel appropriation.

Those appropriations are separately funded by Congress.  It's against the law to use  funds from one appropriation to do the work covered by another appropriation.

So if changes are made in the areas where increased work is to be done, it's up to Congress to set the funding accordingly.


Brosephus
Brosephus

@DownInAlbany
And just how do you know that they're not doing their jobs already?  There are a few thousand agents responsible for auditing millions of tax returns and other things to look for fraud.

I don't know the budget details of the IRS because I'm not as concerned about it as you appear to be.  However, I can ascertain that they could use more enforcement because of the fraud you're pointing out.

I'm not going to trade barbs with you as far as calling something stupid because you tend to get all tender and such and complain about attitudes.  I'll leave the argument with this thought, take it for what it's worth to you.

If they have agents who are catching and prosecuting fraud, yet even more is getting through, obviously there is a need for more enforcement.  You say do their job, yet you offer no proof that they're not already doing their job.  We hear of people getting busted all the time, but they're not doing their job.  

Why don't you quit complaining about people not doing their job when you don't have any proof of such a claim?  I don't see IRS agents attacking you for not doing your job, and I'm sure you'd whine like a baby if one came here and did so.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@DownInAlbany 

I'm not sure what percentage is earmarked for enforcement.  I offered the suggestion to increase funding of enforcement to combat the fraud you brought up.  Your response was to first cut travel and entertainment expenses.  I reposted to show that had already been done.

If fraud is still going on, the logical thing seems to be to increase enforcement.  If your neighborhood sees an uptick in break-ins, the police responds by increasing patrols in the area.  If we're serious about stopping fraud, then the better course of action would be to go after the fraudsters, not shutter an entire program.  There are people who rely on those programs, and I don't see anyone, elected officials or businessmen, who are trying to do something to help those people out in absence of these programs.

Paul42
Paul42

DownInAlbany

Are you going to answer Brosephus regarding his observation that Republicans cutting the IRS enforcement budget means improper payments will continue and possibly increase?

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Paul42 1.  I didn't see that Bro asked a question of me (I was more aghast that some called $14 billion, "small potatoes", I guess).  2. What makes you think I'm obligated to answer every red herring question that is asked?

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@DownInAlbany @Paul42 FWIW, I asked if you even read your own link.  The report concluded that the *IRS* was to blame because it didn't have sufficient internal control processes to catch and deny all the improper claims.


Paul42
Paul42

@DownInAlbany

You brought up how the IRS was making improper payments.  The only thing I saw you cited to do was regarding internal controls.  

If you're going to cite a gov't agency for doing a lousy job in enforcement, it just makes sense to address the actions that led to it.  You may not want to go there, but it's pretty obvious to everyone else one reason for the lousy performance, as well as why you don't want to trace things back to one of the causes.

Paul42
Paul42

@DownInAlbany 

The IRS made the payment, DIA.   That was the final action.  

People can apply all day long.  You need trained people working the paperwork to ensure the payments aren't made in the first place.

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

To the victor comes the spoils - always has been always will be.

straker
straker

inTheMiddle - "corporations provide jobs and create the middle class"


Please explain how giving more huge tax cuts to corporations and taking benefits away from poor and middle class Americans is actually a good thing.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@straker If I had the time to teach you I would, the fact that you don't know is something to ponder.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@InTheMiddle2 @straker There's no purpose to further incenting corporations.  If they're not going to create jobs, then they don't deserve tax cuts.


What's more, a NEGATIVE INTEREST RATE policy would force them to loosen up on those piles of cash they're sitting on.


scrappy-22
scrappy-22

@straker Because those tax cuts allow an even greater percentage of profit to be kept by the wealthy board members.  Once these board members bank accounts become really bloated, that's when the 'trickle down' theory really starts working!  You see, we just haven't reached that point yet... just a few more offshore accounts need padding... then, then it will start trickling! 

King_of_Kolob
King_of_Kolob

Cons love Reagan so much that they are always clamoring for the next Reagan but they do not like many of the things Reagan did. They do not know what they want except that they want power. 

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@King_of_Kolob They do not know what they want except that they want power. 

And, that separates them from the libs how, exactly?

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

The Treasury Department has released its latest report on the fight against widespread fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit program. The problem is, fraud is still winning. And there's not even much of a fight.

"The Internal Revenue Service continues to make little progress in reducing improper payments of Earned Income Tax Credits," a press release from Treasury's inspector general for Tax Administration says. "The IRS estimates that 22 to 26 percent of EITC payments were issued improperly in Fiscal Year 2013. The dollar value of these improper payments was estimated to be between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion."

Yep, small potatoes by anyone's estimation.  Geez

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@DownInAlbany The dollar value of these improper payments was estimated to be between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion."


Yup small potatoes....You would have to have a jeweler's loupe to see that in the total budget and compared to other fraud out there.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@DownInAlbany @HeadleyLamar  "So, fraud is ok as long as it's "small potatoes?" 


Please demonstrate that fraud is the active cause in the preponderance of those cases.  The cited report claims that the IRS is simply failing to catch unsupportable claims for the EITC, and therefore isn't blocking their payment due to a lack of effective internal controls.


Sounds more like the IRS' fault to me.  Did you even read your own link?

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Tuna Meowt @DownInAlbany @HeadleyLamar You ARE kidding, right?  Demonstrate that fraud is the active...?  If you submit a tax return with information that inappropriately grants you EITC, you have committed fraud.  Just because the IRS doesn't have the proper internal controls to catch the fraud doesn't in any way not make it fraud.  I agree, though, that the IRS is at fault, as well.  The lack of internal controls is an easy fix...IF they truly wanted to stop fraud.  Which in this case, I'm not convinced.

Geez

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@DownInAlbany @Tuna Meowt @HeadleyLamar "You ARE kidding, right?  Demonstrate that fraud is the active...?  If you submit a tax return with information that inappropriately grants you EITC, you have committed fraud."


Not at all.  It could just as easily be a simple mistake.


By your logic, if you're involved in a traffic accident, you're automatically at fault.


"Just because the IRS doesn't have the proper internal controls to catch the fraud doesn't in any way not make it fraud."


Fail, and it's clear that you don't have anything to do with financial accounting in your work.  Internal controls are what *prevent* illegal or policy-violative transactions from getting through and onto the books.  Just because a bank's junior accounting staff submits a violative transaction to be posted to the ledger, that does not in any way indicate *willful fraud* as you seem to think it does.


"I agree, though, that the IRS is at fault, as well."


Good.  I'm glad we can agree on that much.


"The lack of internal controls is an easy fix"


Not necessarily.  I used to consult on that very sort of thing.


"..IF they truly wanted to stop fraud.  Which in this case, I'm not convinced."


Are you suggesting that the IRS is complicit in fraud?