Just before Christmas, Vice President Dick Cheney, his face fixed in its perpetual Scrooge-like scowl, flew home from the Middle East to cast a tie-breaking Senate vote for a budget reconciliation bill that cuts human needs programs by $40 billion while showering the rich with another $70 billion in tax cuts.

Cheney’s vote was needed because of a courageous fight by labor, community and other organizations. United in the Human Needs Coalition, they had pushed five Republican moderates to join Democrats in opposing the Bush-backed budget bill.
This opposition forced the reactionary Senate leadership to moderate the cutbacks somewhat. Because of these changes, the House must now vote again on the final package, a roll call that is expected Feb. 3.

The National Organization for Women, already locked in the battle to convince the Senate to reject Bush’s Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, is also urging its members to “make another effort in January” to convince House members to “change their vote to no” on the budget reconciliation.

NOW points out that the measure approved by the House Dec. 19 imposes a 50 percent work participation rate for recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits but provides woefully inadequate childcare funding. It mandates higher co-pays and premiums for Medicaid recipients. It cuts funding for child support enforcement by $1.5 billion.

Senate Republicans rammed through tax cuts for the rich despite warnings that it would add tens of billions to the federal budget deficit. And the Bush administration made clear that it is seeking another $200 billion for the occupation of Iraq on top of the nearly half trillion Defense Department budget.

The Republican leadership displays total indifference to the suffering of the poor, homeless and hungry including over a half million displaced by Hurricane Katrina, while opening the sluices for lobbyists like Jack Abramoff and their greedy corporate clients.

This election year all 435 House seats and one-third of the Senate are up for grabs. Demand that these lawmakers reject Bush-Cheney budget and tax priorities. If they don’t stand up, work to unseat them from office. “We will remember in November!”