You may have heard that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his FY 2014 budget plan this week – and that it is bad news for women and families. Like Chairman Ryan’s previous budget plans, the latest version would make deep cuts to programs that women and their families depend on while giving lavish tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and corporations.
The good news is that Chairman Ryan’s budget is not the only plan circulating on Capitol Hill this week. Yesterday afternoon, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) released her own budget blueprint for FY 2014. In stark contrast to the Ryan budget, the Murray budget proposes new investments in early childhood programs, largely protects core safety net programs (although it includes some cuts to funding for health care programs that could be worrisome), and advances tax fairness. For example, Chairman Murray’s budget:
About $500 billion would come from cuts to domestic programs, including $275 billion in savings from federal health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. It will be very important to ensure that these and other cuts are implemented in a way that does not hurt women and their families – especially since the budget maintains the discretionary spending caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which bring federal spending on non-defense discretionary programs (like Head Start, child care, K-12 education, domestic violence prevention, and job training) to its lowest level in over 50 years.
Given the slow pace of recovery from the recession, persistently high poverty, and growing income inequality that we face today, I would have liked to see Senator Murray’s budget invest even more in helping families get back on their feet and get ahead. To support those investments, more revenue could be raised from the richest among us; even if the $975 billion in revenue that the Murray budget calls for were enacted, spending cuts would account for nearly two-thirds of the deficit reduction enacted since 2011. Nonetheless, Chairman Murray’s budget provides a clear alternative to Chairman Ryan’s budget – an alternative that is far better for women and their families, and one that I hope a majority in Congress will support.