Reaction to Budget Cuts
On the same day the Republican-controlled House voted to cut essential programs for the most vulnerable, they gave themselves a $3,100 pay raise.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the bill imposes the following cuts:
Food stamps: more than 220,000 people would be cut off the program. This includes at least 150,000 people, most of them in working families with children who have substantial work and housing expenses that drop their net incomes below the poverty line. In addition, 70,000 legal immigrants who have been in the United States between five and seven years, primarily working-poor parents and poor elderly individuals, would be cut off food stamps by 2008. The food stamp cuts would total $700 million over five years, according to CBO.
Medicaid: low-income beneficiaries would have to pay more for health care and would receive reduced services; many would end up doing without needed care. A last-minute change by the House reduced the co-payments that the poorest Medicaid beneficiaries must pay. But the House left unchanged the two most serious most serious problems in this part of the bill — the very high co-payments and premiums that beneficiaries just above the poverty line could be charged, and the health care services that states would be allowed to eliminate, including comprehensive preventive care and treatment for near-poor children.
Child support: $24 billion in child support payments would go uncollected over the next ten years because of deep cuts in child support enforcement efforts. By sharply weakening funding for child support enforcement, the bill would undercut one of the government's principal tools for enforcing personal responsibility on those who father a child. Child support payments would drop sharply -- according to CBO, $24 billion that would be collected under current law would go uncollected under the House bill -- and as a result, many children would likely be pushed deeper into poverty.
Child care: 330,000 children in low-income working families would lose child care assistance by 2010. The bill requires states to place many more parents receiving TANF cash assistance into work programs. States will have to provide child care for these parents. Yet the House bill fails to provide enough child care money even to maintain the current number of subsidized child care slots for low-income families.
Several groups and politicians have released statements about the bill and its impact:
"Republican congressional leadership and the Bush administration again revealed their skewed priorities by slashing vital programs that support working families while promoting tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. While congressional leaders were working in the dark of night to eke out enough votes to pass the House Reconciliation bill that includes draconian cuts in working family programs, the Bush administration continued its push to pass a whopping $70 billion dollars in tax breaks for the wealthy."
-AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
"This budget chooses war over education, tax cuts over health care, special interests over need of the nation and rich over poor. This budget bill attempts to balance the deficits caused by the war in Iraq and the tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans squarely on the backs of poor and working class Americans. Our nation cannot sustain the path laid out by this bill. With this bill, Congress is turning its back on hundreds of millions of people in favor of an extreme ideology. We can and must do better."
-Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH)
"We are disappointed that the House made cuts to the Food Stamp Program and are poised to cut taxes for the wealthy. Their choice takes food from families struggling to make ends meet and puts more money in the pockets of those who need it the least. This is morally wrong and will make Thanksgiving bleaker for hundreds of thousands of hard-working families."
-Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann
"Since only minor changes have been made to the budget proposal, it is obvious that a lot of arm twisting must have occurred since then. Congress recognized that special places like the Arctic Refuge need protection. However, it is unfortunate they did not apply that standard of protection to our other sensitive public lands."
-Earthjustice Legislative Associate Sarah Wilhoite