House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) just released a budget resolution outlining his priorities for FY 2016 and beyond. While the introduction to his plan observes that “[t]he economy is not working for many Americans,” and “[a] lot of people are struggling to keep up or are being left behind altogether,” he has a funny way of showing his concern for their plight; like the budget plans put forward in recent years by Price’s predecessor, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Price plan balances the budget on the backs of vulnerable women and their families. The Price budget would:
- Cut $5.5 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years (which Rep. Price boasts is “higher than any previous House Budget Committee proposal”), with programs serving low-income people – mostly women and their families – bearing the brunt of the cuts.
- Repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the tax credits that 5.4 million women currently use to purchase health coverage, and the Medicaid eligibility expansion that provides health insurance to millions more. The budget plan would also revoke improved coverage for maternity care and preventive services, including birth control, and allow insurance companies to once again treat being a woman as a pre-existing condition.
- Turn traditional Medicaid into a block grant while cutting $900 billion from the program, forcing states to restrict eligibility and eliminate benefits to cope with these cuts . Between the ACA repeal and the Medicaid cuts, tens of millions of people would likely lose their health insurance coverage under the Price plan. More than two-thirds of adult Medicaid beneficiaries are women.
- Undermine the Medicare guarantee with a new voucher program.
- Make it more difficult for Congress to prevent a 20 percent cut next year to Social Security Disability Insurance payments that millions of women depend on. The budget manufactures a crisis by creating a new procedural barrier before Congress could take the routine step of allowing Social Security to use the $2.8 trillion reserves in its two Trust Funds to continue to ensure that all Social Security benefits can be paid in full and on time.
- Slash the funding available for critical programs like Head Start, child care, K-12 education, job training, and domestic violence prevention—indeed, for all of the non-defense programs Congress funds each year, including food safety, environmental protection, transportation, and medical research. On top of deep cuts to nondefense programs from sequestration, the budget would cut $759 billion more. (Although the budget claims to hold down defense spending as well, it uses a gimmick to increase the defense budget by nearly $400 billion.)
- Turn the SNAP (food stamps) program into a block grant, limiting its ability to respond effectively to increased need. More than six in ten adult SNAP beneficiaries are women.
- Freeze the maximum amount for Pell Grants, despite rising tuition costs. Pell Grants offer low-income students a chance to get the higher education they need to get ahead, and about two-thirds of the recipients are women.
- Effectively raise taxes for low-income working families by allowing expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) to expire after 2017. Two-thirds of the benefits from these tax credit improvements go to women and their families; letting them expire in 2017 would push an estimated 16.4 million people, including 7.7 million children, into or deeper into poverty.
And here’s what the Price budget would not do: raise one penny of revenue from the very wealthy or corporations. Indeed, although the tax plan is vague, it’s clear on more tax cuts for the wealthy. Overall, just like the Ryan budget, Rep. Price’s plan would almost certainly increase poverty and inequality, causing the most harm to the struggling families it claims to help.