Budget for All Puts Priority on American People
While Congressional Republican budget proposals look to slash revenue and cut social safety net programs, the progressive alternative aims to cut the debt while keeping the safety net.
According to the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities, 62 percent of nondefense cuts in the Republican plan comes from chopping at least $3.3 trillion from Medicaid, pell grants, food stamps and other low-income assistance programs.
2.4 trillion in reductions from Medicaid and other health care for people with low or moderate incomes. The plan shows Medicaid cuts of $810 billion, plus savings of $1.6 trillion from repealing the health reform law’s Medicaid expansion and its subsidies to help low- and moderate-income people purchase health insurance.
$134 billion in cuts to SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. If Chairman Ryan’s proposed SNAP savings were achieved entirely through eligibility cuts, between 8 and 10 million people would be knocked off the program.
At least $463 billion in cuts in mandatory programs serving low-income Americans (other than Medicaid and SNAP). Chairman Ryan’s budget documents indicate that he is proposing $1.2 trillion in cuts in mandatory programs other than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs, but the documents do not specify how much specific programs would be cut (with the exception of SNAP). For this analysis, we make the conservative assumption that savings from low-income mandatory programs (other than Medicaid and SNAP) would be proportionate to their share of spending in this category. Thus, we derive the $463 billion figure from the fact that 45 percent of mandatory spending other than for Social Security, health care, and SNAP goes for programs for low- and moderate-income individuals and families.
At least $291 billion in cuts in low-income discretionary programs. Bear in mind that these cuts are on top of the cuts already enacted as a result of the discretionary caps created by the Budget Control Act. The Ryan budget documents released on March 20 show the plan contains $1.2 trillion in cuts in nondefense discretionary programs beyond the cuts needed to comply with the caps, but do not provide details about the cuts to specific programs. (The documents do identify some major low-income programs, including the discretionary part of Pell Grants and job training programs, as prime targets for cuts.) Here, too, we make the conservative assumption that low-income programs in this category would bear only a proportionate share of the cuts. Thus, we derive the $291 billion figure from the fact that about a quarter of nondefense discretionary spending goes for programs for low- and moderate-income individuals and families.
The Budget for All utilizes investments in job creation, creates a public health care option, uses public financing of federal elections and creates a tax structure based more upon one’s earnings.
“Paul Ryan was right about only one thing when he introduced the GOP’s budget,” Congressman Keith Ellison said. “America has a choice between two futures. In the Republican vision for America, the Medicare guarantee is stripped from our parents and grandparents, Wall Street greed is rewarded while the middle class continues to shrink and more of our tax dollars are handed over to millionaires, billionaires and the corporate special interests who can afford an army of lobbyists.”
This might be too logical for many in D.C. The bill comes to a vote on Thursday and is expected to fail like the Republican budget offered by Paul Ryan. But this is not about which budget passes, it is about pushing the conversation in a progressive direction.
“Our budgets mean schools, firehouses and hospitals stay open and people get the education and job training they need to find good jobs when they’re ready,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Cutting billions from public education, low income health care, school nutrition and public services and giving the money to big corporations isn’t making a tough choice. It’s a choice that’s going to make it tougher for a lot of working Americans, but that’s not the same thing. Republicans say we’re headed off a cliff because of spending. Well, our budget increases funding for job training, for education, for infrastructure, for low-income and veterans housing, and we chart a much more fiscally responsible path than the Republican scheme. It’s about more than numbers on a page to us – it’s about people.”
The priority of the federal budget should be the people of the United States. Paul Ryan and Republicans want to think of the government as a business. It’s not. It is the function of a group of people in a country that aspires to be greater than the sum of its parts.
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Photo by Sue Peacock