...A 'Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportion Reconciliation Act'
Just two days after Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) forced a closed session to highlight an alleged lack of progress into a probe of pre-Iraq war intelligence, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) staged another act of political disobedience today.
Lautenberg filed an amendment to change the official name of the "Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act 2005" to the "Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportion Reconciliation Act." (Click for PDF screenshot)
"Let's call this bill what it is -- a moral disaster," explained Lautenberg. "This bill would close the door of opportunity and cut critical services to the poor, elderly, sick and hungry.
Medicaid is cut by $9.5 billion over the next five years, $7.4 billion of which will fall directly on low-income Americans in the form of increased co-payments and premiums, so-called "flexibility" that will allow states to cut benefit packages for certain individuals, and provisions that will make it harder for some seniors to access needed long-term care.
Food Stamps are cut by $844 million over five years. These cuts could affect some 300,000 people nationwide, including legal immigrants who would have to wait seven years before becoming eligible, up from the current five years.
Child Support is cut by $4.9 billion over five years. This will reduce states' capacity to enforce child support orders, and result in children receiving $7.1 billion less in child support payments over five years.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is cut by $425 million over five years. This cut is achieved by requiring some persons with disabilities to wait up to an additional year to receive all of the benefits they are owed.
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is reauthorized in the House bill, which significantly increases work requirements but does not provide adequate child care funding for families making the transition from welfare to self-sufficiency.
Student Loans are cut by $14.3 billion over five years, primarily through increases in the interest rates and fees that students pay. At a time when college costs are rising faster than inflation, the House is poised to make the largest cut in the history of the student loan programs.
The House Budget Committee will compile all of the budget cuts into one big omnibus budget reconciliation bill which will go to the House floor for a vote. The House reconciliation bill cuts 44% more than was agreed to by the House and Senate in the original budget reconciliation conference report in April. The House cuts are $11 billion higher than the reconciliation cuts being considered in the Senate.
While it may appear that the deep cuts in the House bill are necessary to reduce the federal deficit or offset the costs of hurricane relief efforts, the reality is that these spending cuts, imposed mostly on low-income people, are being used to offset $106 billion in tax cuts - $70 billion of which will occur in the tax portion of the budget reconciliation process. Consequently, the House budget reconciliation bill does not reduce the federal deficit; it increases it by $16 billion to $40 billion over the next five years. These growing deficits threaten the country's ability to address a wide range of priorities in education, environmental protection, affordable housing, energy, transportation, and more.
This action alert for this is available online at www.mncn.org/bp/housealert.pdf