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Pallone Highlights Devastating Effects Republican Budget Would Have on New Jersey

Location: Unknown

January 23, 2006

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) gave the following statement at a press conference this afternoon at the Statehouse in which he joined New Jersey Citizen Action to highlight the devastating effects the Republican budget reconciliation bill would have on New Jersey.

"I'd like to thank New Jersey Citizen Action for holding this press conference today to highlight the devastating effects Congressional Republican Budget Reconciliation legislation would have on hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans, who have not benefited from the Bush economic policies of the last five years.

"How soon Washington Republicans forget the horrors of Hurricane Katrina. Remember the images on your television screens of America's most impoverished losing their homes and being stranded in a city filled with water. Americans were rightfully outraged, and in response President Bush vowed to finally address poverty in America after ignoring it for five years.

"How soon both President Bush and Washington Republicans forget the plight of the most vulnerable in our society. It took them less than two months to devise a plan that takes more money and services away from the poor, all to provide more tax cuts to the wealthiest few. The American people should once again be outraged.

"Citizen Action's report shows that nearly 600-thousand children and seniors here in New Jersey will be impacted by the $11.4 billion cut in Medicaid. As healthcare costs skyrocket, Medicaid plays a crucial role in ensuring the most vulnerable in our society have proper access to the health care they need.

"America can do better than slashing the program that provides insurance coverage to one in seven Americans, at a time when the number of uninsured has risen by 6 million since President Bush took office.

"America can do better than increasing costs for essential health care services for the poorest Americans---including, for the first time, even the poorest children---which will reduce access to needed health care.

"America can do better than a budget package where three out of every four dollars in Medicaid cuts are borne directly by individuals who are poor or disabled.

"Washington Republicans don't stop with health care. Their budget plan cuts down on the funding our state receives to address child support enforcement. These cuts will mean working parents will not receive $302 million in child support over the next ten years to help care for their children. That's simply mean-spirited.

"New Jersey parents and students should also take note---college will soon get a lot more expensive if House Republicans get their way. They plan the largest raid on student aid in our nation's history.

"Included in these cuts are nearly $8 billion in new charges that will raise the cost of college loans---through new fees and higher interest---for millions of American students and families who borrow to pay for college. For the typical student borrower, already saddled with $17,500 in debt, these new fees and higher interest charges could cost up to $5,800.

"Financial barriers should never prevent a qualified student from going to college, and that is why America has long since made the commitment to help all Americans afford a higher education. Studies show that financial barriers alone will prevent 4.4 million high school graduates from attending a four-year public university over the next decade, and prevent another two million from attending any college at all. And that's before this Republican Raid on Student Aid.

"Once again, Congressional Republicans and the Bush administration cloak this budget reconciliation proposal as a deficit cutting measure. The budget reconciliation bill they plan to bring to the floor in the coming weeks will do absolutely nothing to reduce the deficit. In fact, if Republicans get their way, the deficit will actually increase.

"You see, while Republicans plan to force $40 billion in cuts to Medicaid, student aide and child care programs they will turn around and give tax breaks of $70 billion to the wealthy. No other group has benefited from five years of Republican domination in Washington than have the wealthiest in our nation.

"Americans making over $300,000 will get another gift from Congressional Republicans, and the rest of us will see nothing but cuts and an ever-increasing deficit that Republicans are forcing us to pass on to our children. The budget reconciliation is just the latest example of how House Republicans have turned the people's House into a House where only the voices of the corporate and wealthy elite are heard.

"House Republicans have had one month to look over this legislation and see how harmful it is to America's working families. Let's hope they realize how harmful this legislation is to the very people they've been hurting for the last five years. Let's hope they learned something from Hurricane Katrina, and let's hope they finally realize that a strong America is one that works for all Americans. Together, America can do better."

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