Saturday, October 29, 2005
From the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:
By the end of this week, eight House Committees will have adopted proposals that would reduce spending in a wide range of mandatory (or “entitlement”) programs. These proposals, which next week will be combined into a single reconciliation bill by the House Budget Committee, have been defended as necessary to reduce the deficit and offset hurricane-related costs (though as explained below, neither claim is accurate). Yet the proposals passed out of House committees do not reflect an approach of shared sacrifice, particularly when viewed as part of a budget reconciliation process that also facilitates the adoption of more tax cuts.
Even though poverty, food insecurity, and the number of people lacking health insurance have all been rising, the House bills would ask low-income families to shoulder a large share of the budgetcutting burden, leaving them with less access to needed health care and basic food aid. Children would receive less of the child support they are owed, and many poor individuals with disabilities would have to wait longer to receive the back payments to which they are entitled.
While cutting programs that benefit low-income families and individuals, the House reconciliation proposals shy away from some sensible program cuts that are opposed by powerful lobbying interests, such as Medicare managed care companies. In addition, the House reconciliation proposals would not call for any sacrifice in the form of scaling back the benefits of tax cuts enacted in the last four years, whose benefits overwhelmingly have gone to higher-income taxpayers. In fact, rather than asking those high-income households to share in the sacrifice, the House is planning to pass a new round of tax cuts under the same fast-track reconciliation process being used to push through the program cuts.
These tax cuts, a substantial portion of which are expected to go to high-income households, would further exacerbate income inequality, which is already exceptionally large and growing. And because the new tax cuts would cost more money than the budget cuts would save, the budget cuts would in effect be used not to reduce the deficit or pay hurricane-related costs, but rather to help pay for the new tax cuts.
Read the full report, entitled, "UNSHARED SACRIFICE: Who’s Hurt, Who’s Helped, and What’s Spared Under the Emerging House Budget Reconciliation Plan"