(Washington, D.C.) Today, Representative Paul Ryan released his budget proposal for FY 12, introducing a major overhaul of Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements, changes to the tax system and $6.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years.

The following is a statement by National Women’s Law Center Co-Presidents Nancy Duff Campbell and Marcia D. Greenberger:

“The Ryan plan is fiscally irresponsible and devastating in its impact on millions of women and their families,” said NWLC Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell.  “Instead of offering a balanced plan for deficit reduction that includes both increased revenues and cuts in spending across a range of programs, the Ryan plan makes deep cuts in safety net and other critical programs on which so many women and their families depend.  At the same time, it further enriches the wealthy and powerful, not only by continuing the Bush-era tax cuts, but also by providing additional tax cuts for the highest-income Americans and corporations.” 

“By repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Ryan plan would permit insurance companies to return to the days of treating women like a pre-existing condition by allowing insurers to charge women higher premiums than men, deny coverage to women due to pre-existing conditions, and refuse to cover maternity care, said NWLC Co-President, Marcia D. Greenberger.  Women with pre-existing conditions—who currently can’t get insurance at any price due to discriminatory insurance industry practices—would have nowhere to obtain insurance coverage.

“This proposal slashes funding for Medicaid, a critical life line providing health care coverage to the most vulnerable:  the elderly, people with disabilities, children and pregnant women. Ryan’s plan would devastate those receiving Medicaid with an arbitrary cut of more than 20 percent. Simply put, capping Medicaid spending would shift costs to states—and ultimately to recipients—and do absolutely nothing to address increasing health care costs and the rising deficit.

“The elderly and people with disabilities rely on Medicare for their health care coverage. Ryan’s plan also undercuts the promise of Medicare to those aged 55 or younger  through  a scheme that would arbitrarily cut $30 billion by shifting costs to recipients through increased premiums and cost-sharing.  This approach not only puts vulnerable people at additional risk but fails to  address rising health care costs.

“Social Security benefits—which  now average just $12,000 per year for women 65 and older, yet provide most of their income—would be cut,” said NWLC Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell.  “The Ryan plan would change budget rules to enable cuts to Social Security to be pushed through Congress on a fast track. Although it doesn’t identify specific benefit cuts, the plan rejects the idea of requiring high earners—whose earnings above $106,800 are currently exempt from Social Security taxes—to pay an extra penny into Social Security.  So this plan would require deeper cuts than those proposed in the earlier Bowles-Simpson plan.

“In addition, this plan would slash funding for domestic discretionary programs—which include maternal and child health, child care, Head Start, K-12 education, Pell grants, job training, housing and energy assistance, and services for the elderly—even more deeply than the devastating cuts proposed in H.R. 1. It would dismantle the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps), which was, for many families, the only functioning part of the safety net during the recession. 

“In addition, the Ryan budget proposes capping total federal spending at a fixed share of the Gross Domestic Product, which would severely hamper the government’s ability to respond to economic downturns or new demands.  The cap would be enforced by automatic, across-the-board spending cuts.

“Yet, at the same time, the Ryan budget would give trillions in tax breaks to the very wealthy and to powerful corporations. It would renew the Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and last year’s reduction in taxes on multimillion dollar estates. The Ryan budget would also lower the top tax rate to 25 percent—cutting taxes even more for millionaires and billionaires—and eliminate the modest tax on high earners and wealthy investors that helps finance the Affordable Care Act.  Corporations would see their tax rate drop from 35 percent to 25 percent.

“This plan slashes vital services that affect women at every stage of their lives.  Congress should reject this dangerous blueprint that takes crucial support from women and their families, at the same time that it further enriches the most wealthy and most powerful corporations.”