Reject Rep. Ryan’s Draconian FY 2014 Budget Resolution
Advocacy Letter - 03/13/13
Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. House of Representatives
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our strong opposition to the Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We urge you to reject this proposal and instead pass a resolution that strikes a sensible balance between revenue increases and spending cuts, rather than one that attempts to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans or hamstring our country’s economic recovery.
The Ryan budget makes cuts that are extreme and irresponsible, slashing or eliminating many services that are needed by communities represented by our member organizations, including vulnerable people such as low-income families, young children, students, older people, individuals with disabilities, the unemployed, and the uninsured. While short on details, it is clear that the majority of cuts in the Ryan budget are to programs that serve lower-income Americans. With millions of families currently hurt by unemployment and reduced income, the Ryan budget would make things worse by gutting Medicare and Medicaid and calling for massive cuts in education, emergency food assistance, and other necessities. These cuts go beyond those currently in effect under the sequester provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011, in part because the Ryan budget would effectively cancel the defense half of the sequester cuts, reneging on the deficit reduction deal agreed to in 2011 and forcing the outright elimination of many important government functions.
At the same time that it proposes huge spending cuts that will harm low-income and middle-class Americans, the Ryan budget would give massive tax cuts to those that need them the least – without providing any meaningful explanation of how to make them deficit-neutral. Rather than reduce deficits or restore fiscal responsibility, the Ryan budget seems aimed primarily at fulfilling some radical vision to starve much of the federal government out of existence.
We are particularly troubled by the following aspects of the Ryan budget proposal:
- Health Care: As with the FY2013 budget resolution, the Ryan budget would repeal the coverage expansions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and cut (through “block grants”) Medicaid and other health programs by another $756 billion. These two steps would cut more than $2.5 trillion and drastically increase the number of uninsured Americans. The Urban Institute estimated that last year’s similar Medicaid proposal would cause 14 to 21 million people to lose Medicaid coverage by 2022. Combined with the 27 million Americans who the CBO estimates would gain coverage under the ACA by 2023, but who would lose it under the Ryan budget, 40 to 50 million Americans would lose coverage under this budget resolution.
- Medicare: Like the proposal in the FY2013 Ryan budget resolution, this newest budget breaks America’s promise to seniors and jeopardizes their health. Beginning in 2024, it would replace Medicare’s guaranteed coverage with a flat premium-support payment, or voucher, which beneficiaries could use to purchase either private health insurance or a version of traditional Medicare. Over time, this would significantly raise out-of-pocket health costs for many Medicare beneficiaries. In the meantime, it would cut Medicare spending by a total of $356 billion.
- SNAP: While details are scarce, the Ryan budget would cut SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the next ten years by converting the program into block grants at lower levels – while bizarrely claiming that this safety net would be “strengthened” as a result. Causing millions of low-income families to be thrown off the rolls or have their benefits drastically cut, leading to increased hunger and poverty during difficult economic times, will not strengthen anyone or anything.
- Education: Among the mostly-vague cuts to education spending, the Ryan budget would freeze the maximum Pell Grant for ten years, preventing the program from keeping up with inflation. As a result, Pell Grants would lose substantial purchasing power, potentially denying college access to millions of students. These cuts would reverse our nation’s progress on improving student achievement, devastate our nation’s education system, and harm America’s economic future.
- Other Vital Services and Programs: While the Ryan budget seeks to avoid specifics, it would lead to massive and disproportionate cuts to countless services and programs that are vital to the communities that we represent. Among the safety net programs that would be severely jeopardized are the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI), school lunches and other child nutrition programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
- Tax Cuts for Millionaires and Billionaires: Perhaps the most unconscionable aspect of the Ryan budget is that while it would deprive many Americans of the most basic necessities like health care and food assistance, it would drastically lower tax rates in a way that favors the wealthiest Americans. It would cut the top tax bracket from the current 39.6 percent down to 25 percent, among other cuts. Rather than specifying a single reform to make these cuts revenue-neutral, the explanatory materials produced by the Budget Committee say only that they will be accompanied by tax reform. In other words, under this budget, lower- and middle-income Americans will immediately feel the pain of drastic budget cuts, while wealthy Americans will immediately enjoy drastically lower tax rates – accompanied by a vague promise that they will be paid for at some future time.
For these reasons, we strongly urge you to oppose the Ryan FY2014 budget proposal. Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please contact Rob Randhava, Senior Counsel at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, at (202) 466-6058.
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