U. S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. condemned the Republican budget for next year that was approved on Friday by the House Republican Majority for the plan's horribly misplaced priorities that favor Big Oil, Big Business and the wealthy at the expense of seniors, the middle class and the needy.
"This budget breaks the promise to America's seniors by ending Medicare as we know it and by slashing Medicaid they will make nursing home care unaffordable for millions of seniors and disabled," said Pallone. "The Republicans want to eliminate the Medicare guarantee by sending seniors into the private marketplace with vouchers that won't cover their needs. By converting Medicaid into block grants, they will force severe cutbacks. These are bad choices based on the wrong priorities."
What makes these decisions even worse is the financial favoritism they would give to millionaires and special interests.
"They want to give Big Oil billions in tax subsidies, tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas and tax cuts for the wealthy," said Pallone. "This is financial favoritism for those who don't need it, don't deserve it and shouldn't receive it at the expense of seniors, working families and the needy."
A new analysis by Moody's top economist shows the Republican budget will cause the loss of 1.7 million jobs through 2014.
The plan for Fiscal Year 2012 also makes college more expensive for the middle class by sharply reducing Pell Grants, harms education by slashing Head Start and forcing teacher layoffs, and abandons investments in the future by cutting transportation and medical research.
The voucher plan for Medicare will force seniors to pay more and get less, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO says out-of-pocket costs for seniors would double. The typical 65-year-old currently spends approximately $6,150 in health care spending. The Republican plan would push it to an estimated $12,500.It would also re-open the prescription drug donut hole, costing seniors who "hit the donut hole" an extra $600.
The plan to convert Medicaid into block grants with caps will result in cuts approaching $800 billion over the next ten years, shredding the safety net for the needy and denying nursing home care to millions of seniors and disabled. Because Medicare doesn't cover nursing home care, Medicaid is the primary payer for extended care.
"The Republicans aren't doing anything to reduce or control medical costs, they are just shifting the burden and reducing care," said Pallone. "And neither proposal keeps pace with health care inflation, adding a greater burden to seniors and others."
The Pell Grant cuts would be the largest in the history of the program. It cuts college aid for nearly 10 million students, slashing the maximum Pell Grant award by more than $2,500 from the current $5,500 -- to the lowest level in more than a decade.
Offsetting these draconian cuts are tax breaks of $40 billion for Big Oil, tax loopholes that reward companies for shipping jobs overseas and tax cuts for millionaires that will add $700 billion to the deficit. Each millionaire would get a windfall of $200,000.
"When the choice is Medicare or millionaires the Republican's priority is a defining difference with Democrats," said Pallone. "I believe their choices are wrong."