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An Unbalanced Budget: Response to the House FY 2012 Budget (Path to Prosperity)

Updated April 26, 2011

On April 6, the House revealed its proposal for spending in 2012, with the appropriations plan through 2021. NETWORK most vehemently disagrees with Chairman Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity,” as he is calling his House budget proposal. We’ve seen some aspects of this budget before; it keeps effective tax rates low for corporations and millionaires, continues limitations on supports for those who are most vulnerable, and eliminates life-saving regulations. However, never in the history of the nation has such a destruction of the social safety-net been proposed.

The most dangerous proposals, which differ the most from NETWORK’s values – and Catholic Social Teaching – are in healthcare, defense, income security, revenue and community development.  These encompass the most drastic transformations in Ryan’s proposal. 

Who gains, and who loses in Ryan’s budget?

 

Healthcare

Federal government expenditures for healthcare include community clinics, vaccinations for children in poverty, and the already-enacted parts of the Affordable Care Act. The cuts would deny health insurance to children with pre-existing conditions, increase the amount seniors would have to pay for medications, eliminate the possibility of young adults remaining on their parent’s insurance and dismantle other very popular elements of the healthcare law. The proposed budget takes significant aim at dismantling the Affordable Care Act - the House majority’s primary legislative goal. 

Also proposed are structural changes to Medicaid and to Medicare. Medicaid is the means-tested program making it possible for those with little or no resources to acquire necessary medical care. Seniors who have no assets are able to receive basic care in nursing facilities through Medicaid. Some of the services that allow children with serious health problems to be educated come through Medicaid to schools, which could not afford these on their own. 

Medicare is a very successful means of providing healthcare for seniors who have paid into it through their working years. Even though its costs have escalated in recent years, it is more cost efficient than care under private insurers. The costs of all healthcare are reflected in the costs of Medicare. 

Who gains?  Insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, states that will become responsible for the health of their citizens, ...

Who loses? Children, those without insurance who rely on community clinics, the elderly, those who are unemployed, who have lost insurance, or are unable to afford private insurance...

Income Security

“Income Security” includes human needs categories across both the discretionary and “mandated” areas of the budget. It includes Supplementary Security Income (SSI), Unemployment Insurance, housing assistance, SNAP (Food Stamps), Women Infants and Children nutrition (WIC), federal employee retirement, home energy assistance, child care, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and more.

Proposed cuts would cut in half the housing vouchers for the elderly and persons with special housing needs. It would eliminate the program which educates and helps homeowners facing foreclosure. It would drastically reduce the housing vouchers available to veterans. 

SNAP is proposed to become a block grant program, meaning that those eligible for this most successful anti-poverty program would no longer be guaranteed food assistance.  Nutritional programs such as WIC (Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children) and the Commodity Food Program (food boxes for the elderly) would be drastically cut.

LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) would be cut below half, although it currently reaches only 40% of those eligible. As energy prices skyrocket, those on low- and fixed-incomes have no recourse in heating, cooling and lighting their homes.

Who gains?  Does anyone?

Who loses? Children, people with long-term disabilities, families using housing vouchers, the unemployed, retirees, food production and transportation workers and store keepers, the most vulnerable members of our communities. 

Revenue

The United States is borrowing about 40 cents for every dollar we expend. Therefore, our debt to those from whom we borrow (U.S. entities and foreign nations and corporations) continues to grow. At the same time, revenue is at the lowest level