Bush Budget Bad News for Many
February 7, 2005
Washington, DC-Congressman G. K. Butterfield warns that President Bush's budget plan is bad news for farmers, first responders, veterans and children.
"To help pay for the tax cuts for the richest Americans President Bush wants to make cuts to health care, education, veterans' services, environmental protection, community development and support for our farmers," Butterfield said. "Simply put, this budget moves the country in the wrong direction."
President Bush sent Congress a $2.57 trillion budget plan Monday. Bush's budget does not reflect the costs for his proposal to overhaul Social Security. The budget also fails to include any new spending for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the coming weeks, Bush is expected to seek an additional $80 billion for the cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for this year.
Of 23 major government agencies, 12 would see their budget authority reduced next year, including cuts of 9.6 percent at Agriculture, 5.6 percent at the Environmental Protection Agency, 6.7 percent at Transportation and 11.5 percent at Housing and Urban Development.
Butterfield said that agricultural cuts would greatly affect farmers in eastern North Carolina. Overall, the administration projects cutting $8.2 billion in agriculture programs over the next decade including trimming food stamp payments to the poor by $1.1 billion.
Under the proposed budget, cotton growers would see cuts from a reduction in the ceiling on payment limitations from $360,000 down to $250,000. Also, there is a proposal to cut all direct payments to farmers by 5 percent across the board.
"Many farmers have already been pushed to the edge," Butterfield said. "So these kinds of cuts would be devastating."
Under the President's budget, health care costs for many veterans would also be raised through new co-payments on prescription drugs and enrollment fees. The budget also fails to repeal the Disabled Veterans Tax, which forces disabled military retirees to give up one dollar of their pension for every dollar of disability pay they receive.
"It's a shame that proposals like these would be coming forward at the same time we're welcoming home a new generation of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan," Butterfield said.
Butterfield said that he was also disappointed that the budget fails to include funding for the promised increase in death benefits for the families of servicemen and women who are killed in action.
The budget also proposes to cut funding for the Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) program by $480 million, and slashes funding for local firefighters by $215 million - cuts of 80 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
Butterfield said that while the cost of Medicaid has been a growing burden on many communities in North Carolina, the President is proposing a $60 billion cut. It also aims at cutting $94 million in grants for the Healthy Community Access Program, which are used to increase access to health services for vulnerable populations, place health care professionals in underserved communities, and provide support services for people with specific health needs.
"These cuts would decimate health care funding for children, the elderly and people with disabilities, and it makes it even harder for families to afford nursing home care," Butterfield said.
About one-third of the programs being targeted for elimination are in the Education Department, including federal grant programs for local schools in such areas as vocational education, anti-drug efforts and Even Start, a $225 million literacy program. The budget only provides half of the funding promised for after school programs, cuts vocational education by $1.2 billion and slashes $500 million from education technology state grants.