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Rep. Ryan’s Budget proposal approved by the House of Representatives

The Budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (H.Con.Res. 12) passed the House on March 29 and is now being concretized in actions by the Appropriations Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.  In general, this budget would unravel the social safety net, while increasing spending on tax benefits to the wealthiest individuals and corporations among us, and increase military spending.  Below are early examples of the impact of this bill, if it were to become law.

On April 18, the Ways and Means Committee marked up a bill which, if passed, would:

  • permanently repeal the Social Services Block Grant (currently $1.7 billion a year). This grant to states enable services best suited to the needs of individuals, and includes such services as daycare and protective services for children or adults, adoption, case management, foster care, home-delivered meals, and many more. A fact sheet from the Department of Health and Human Services is available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/ssbg/about/factsheets.htm
  • eliminate immigrant children from receiving assistance through the Child Tax Credit, unless the parents file taxes using a Social Security Number (not a Taxpayer Identification Number). A high percentage of legally documented, working immigrants use the Identification Number, rather than a Social Security Number.

The House Agriculture Committee voted on April 18 to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $33 billion.  This will force millions of low-income people out of the program.  If passed into law, this would reduce the maximum SNAP benefit by $57 per month through the end of this year.  It would also limit a state option known as “Heat and Eat”, which benefits those extremely vulnerable who are eligible for SNAP and receive the smallest of LIHEAP benefits. This will impact 4.7 million SNAP recipients. 

In East St. Louis, IL, over 40% of the population has NO INCOME other than SNAP.  Jesus words are clear, the many times he models and says: Feed the hungry.  It is a mystery how anyone of faith could promote cuts to this extent – particularly when simultaneously proposing increased tax benefits to the wealthiest among us.

SNAP has over and over been shown to be the most effective program, helping local communities as well as individuals and families. For every one dollar spent in SNAP, $1.73 in spending is generated. SNAP was the only effective program in the immediacy of Hurricane Katrina and many other disasters. SNAP has kept over a million families out of poverty. 

How are families expected to meet the nutritional needs of their families? How are they to keep their children healthy and mentally alert enough to learn in school? How are they to maintain a sense of self-worth and live with dignity?

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent multiple letters to Congress, objecting to cuts in programs that serve people who are vulnerable.

                The housing letter is available at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/housing-homelessness/upload/Letter-to-House-Appropriations-on-FY-2013-2012-04-04.pdf

                The agricultural spending bill letter is available at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/hunger-food-nutrition/upload/Letter-to-House-Committee-on-Agriculture-2012-04-16.pdf

                The SNAP/food stamps letter is available at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/hunger-food-nutrition/upload/Joint-Letter-to-Senate-2012-04-16.pdf

                The Child Tax Credit letter is available at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/poverty/domestic/upload/Letter-to-House-Ways-and-Means-on-CTC-2012-04-17.pdf

                The March 6 letter on the federal budget is available at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Letter-to-Congress-Federal-Budget-2012-03-06.pdf