House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) chose this morning, April 1, to release his Fiscal Year 2015 budget. Although calling a budget that guts programs helping struggling families and gives millionaires and corporations trillions of dollars in new tax cuts “The Path to Prosperity” is laughable, this budget is no joke.
- It slashes the federal budget by more than $5.1 trillion over the next 10 years, and programs serving low-income people—mostly women and their families—bear the brunt of the cuts. The cuts are $500 billion deeper than in the draconian budget Rep. Ryan proposed last year.
- The budget repeals the Affordable Care Act , slashes and dismantles Medicaid, and replaces the Medicare guarantee with a limited subsidy.
- It slashes SNAP/Food Stamps, limits eligibility, and turns the program into a block grant that would not respond to increased need during recessions.
- It cuts the funding available for other safety net programs, including Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Section 8 Housing Subsidies, the Low-Income Energy Program Assistance Program, and more.
- It restricts eligibility for Pell Grants, which help low-income students pay for college, and freezes the maximum grant award at the 2013-2014 level for 10 years.
- It cuts funding for non-defense discretionary programs—which include Head Start, child care, education, job training, food safety, environmental protection and more—by $791 billion over 10 years. That will reduce funding for non-defense discretionary programs to less than half its level under President Reagan, just 1.7 percent of GDP, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. But the budget increases funding on the defense side by $483 billion.
- It gives the very wealthy and corporations trillions of dollars in new tax breaks by cutting the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent. (It claims these tax cuts would be paid for by cutting other tax expenditures, but doesn’t say how.)
The Ryan budget (see p. 61) defends its cuts to programs for low-income Americans because, “If the government continues running trillion-dollar deficits and experiences a debt crisis, the poor and vulnerable will undoubtedly be the hardest hit, as the federal government’s only recourse will be severe, across-the-board cuts.” Hmm—what if instead of cutting taxes for the very wealthy and corporations, we made them pay their fair share? Check out President Obama’s budget and the more ambitious Better Off Budget released by the Congressional Progressive Caucus to see what’s possible.
I can’t help taking budgets seriously. Here at NWLC, we know that you don’t “expand opportunity” or “restore fairness” (p. 6) by cutting the programs that help poor families make ends meet and have a chance at a better life. But there are so many ludicrous claims in this budget, someone should take it on– Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert , go for it!