Apr 03, 2014 | By Marge Clark, BVM
The House of Representatives is faced with a moral decision when asked to vote on alternative budget proposals as early as next week. Given that neither proposal will gain any traction in the Senate, both are messaging pieces setting the tone for mid-term elections.
The moral question for a legislator is: do I vote in favor of a budget proposal that further supports the rich and powerful – who fund election of candidates who further the narrowing of wealth and power? Or do I vote for a budget that provides millions of jobs, is responsible to repairing the crumbling infrastructure constructed by generations before us in order to leave a safe environment for next generations, and giving hardworking people living in poverty an opportunity to share in the immense wealth held in this nation?
The two budget proposals currently before members of the House present a stark contrast between these two stances. The Congressional Progressive Caucus released its BETTER OFF BUDGET a week ago and the House budget committee, under the guidance of Representative Paul Ryan released THE PATH TO PROSPERITY 2015 on April 1. What an appropriate date for such a document, as any reference to support of the common good is a joke. These two proposals and the president’s request can be seen in a side-by-side chart at http://nationalpriorities.org/analysis/2014/budget-proposals-2015/
In each category, the BETTER OFF BUDGET is a match to the priorities held by NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. NETWORK strongly supports the BETTER OFF BUDGET. It is astounding to think that the House Republican budget puts no funding into creating jobs – adding to the rolls and cost of antipoverty programs, and lowering morale among our young people. According to “The New Battleground Poll” (Lake Research Partners), this is a major issue keeping young adults from bothering to vote as they admit to being cynical toward politics and unmoored from institutions. Jobs are key for this population to again engage with the nation. This Ryan budget targets their job potential by eliminating almost 50 job-training programs, imposing an income eligibility cap for Pell Grants, ending funding for part-time students, and capping awards at $5,730.
The Ryan budget jeopardizes the development of our children in other ways as well. Their access to nutritious food will be less as SNAP becomes a block grant with $23 billion in cuts. Cash assistance programs that allow low-income parents to work by providing child care, transportation, and other assistance will be slashed by $125 billion over the ten years. And the Community Development Block Grant will be eliminated – further reducing assistance for needs of families with children who are struggling.
Our seniors with moderate to low means will face increasing difficulties if any of Congressman Ryan’s proposals go into effect for them. Medicare will become a voucher program, with more than half the $5.1 Trillion in savings coming from healthcare (Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act).
All-in-all, this budget is damaging to young people (our future), our elders (who helped us get where we are), and anyone who has been unable to become a part of the wealthiest elite in the nation.