By Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio)
It has been said time and time again that a budget is a moral document: a statement of our values and priorities as a nation. Last week the House Budget Committee passed a FY 2013 budget resolution that shamelessly cut taxes for oil companies and the wealthiest Americans, will destroy several million American jobs, and ends the Medicare guarantee for many current and all future beneficiaries. I will refrain from making judgments on the morality of those favoring this Ryan Republican Budget plan and instead say that this budget is a highly irresponsible, unjust fiscal plan for our nation. It benefits the few at the expense of the many.
Of the nondefense budget cuts presented in the Republican Budget, 62 percent is cut from programs for lower-income Americans, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. The cuts come from Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, school aid, Pell Grants, Head Start, and job training programs, among other things. These programs aid the hardest hit by the economic crisis, as well as the weakest and most vulnerable in society.
This Republican Budget would have more than 9 million college students lose Pell Grant funding. It would cut 200,000 children from Head Start. It would have 19 million seniors, children, and the poor have their health care benefits eroded or cut altogether. And it would end food support benefits for up to 10 million people at a time when food banks are overloaded with people seeking help.
The Congressional Budget Office analysis indicates that this Republican Budget plan would shift costs to seniors on Medicare who would get stuck paying higher premiums and co-pays with the private insurance options offered under this plan in place of traditional Medicare. The effect of these policies would be, as Newt Gingrich explained during a similar debate in the 1990s, to force Medicare to "wither on the vine."
These cuts are bad enough on their own. But they exist alongside tax cuts for the rich. How can we allow the lowest-income Americans, those struggling the most, to take the brunt of these cuts, while the rich get more tax breaks? The average tax cut for millionaires under this Republican Budget plan is at least $150,000. There are even more tax breaks buried in this Republican Budget on top of the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy. Companies that ship American jobs overseas and oil companies also see their taxes cut by this Ryan Republican Budget.
For me, the choice is clear. This is an unfair budget to those Americans most in need. I look forward to supporting the Democratic alternative budget -- that is for the many, not just the wealthy few -- when this measure is debated on the House floor.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) serves on the Committee on the Budget, as well as the Committee on Appropriations.