Screwing the Poor, Students and Seniors
The $39.5 billion "budget-cutting" bill that screws the poor is on its way to Bush's office for his signature. Thirteen House Republicans, one independent and all 200 Democrats voted against the measure. The final vote was 216 to 214. The Senate bill passed in December after Cheney returned from a trip to the Middle East to cast the tie-breaking vote.
The impact of the bill on the deficit is likely to be negligible, slicing less than one-half of one percent from about $14.3 trillion in spending over the next five years. Three cheers for fiscal conservatives. What in the hell do the Republicans who voted for this bill stand for?
Women on welfare are likely to face longer hours of work, education, or community service to qualify for checks.
Recipients of Medicaid should face higher co-payments and deductibles, especially on prescription drugs and emergency-room visits for non-emergency care.
More affluent seniors will find it far more difficult to qualify for Medicaid-covered nursing care.
College students could face higher interest rates when their banks get squeezed by the federal government.
And some cotton farmers will find some reductions in their support payments. State-led efforts to force deadbeat parents to pay their child support may also have to be curtailed.
*Separate Congressional Budget Office documents estimated that Medicaid changes would impose new costs on 13 million poor recipients and end insurance coverage for 65,000 Medicaid enrollees, that cuts to federal child support enforcement funds would shift costs to the states and eliminate billions of dollars in child support payments, and that changes made to the Senate-passed budget package saved private Medicare insurers $22 billion over 10 years.
*The bill's Medicaid provisions spell bad news for many of the program's low-income recipients but good news for health insurers and drug companies. The bill could mean that beneficiaries with incomes just above the poverty line will pay more than the current $3 co-payment for many medical services. It will tighten restrictions on elderly persons who transfer assets to family members to qualify for Medicaid.
*The bill grossly under funds child care while dramatically increasing work participation requirements for families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.
*The bill will make low-income people with severe disabilities wait longer to receive the full Supplemental Security Income benefits they are due. Part of the "savings" from this provision occurs because some beneficiaries are expected to die before they receive their full benefits.
*The deepest cuts -- $12.7 billion over five years -- were exacted on the government's student loan programs. Kevin Bruns, executive director of America's Student Loan Providers, said the savings would come at the expense of students, parents and lenders alike. "No one got off easy," he said. The University of California wrote to the state's House delegation expressing concern that the legislation would increase the costs to UC system borrowers by more than $10 million over the next three years.
*The bill cuts funding for child support enforcement; as a result, $8.4 billion or more in child support owed to children will go uncollected over the next ten years.
Sadly, the majority of the people who will be impacted by this greedy bill probably don't vote.