House Budget Chair Paul Ryan Releases Budget: Assault on Children
On Tuesday, April 1, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his budget for Fiscal Year 2015, presenting his vision for the future and a clear roadmap of his priorities. Unfortunately, once again, Ryan's budget chooses corporations over children, taking the food (and much more!) from mouths of children to give to the rich. Rather than promoting equality of opportunity, the Ryan budget would significantly worsen inequity. In short, Ryan's budget is an assault on children, families and the most vulnerable.
Ryan's budget slashes $5.1 trillion in spending over the next decade by eviscerating the programs and services that are critical to middle- and lower-income Americans and proven to lift families out of poverty. Meanwhile, the budget heaps tax breaks on the wealthy, reducing the top income tax bracket from 39.6 percent to 25 percent, and the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. In addition, his budget breaks the bipartisan agreement to make balanced cuts, shifting $483 billion in agreed-to defense spending cuts onto domestic discretionary programs (like Head Start, Title I, and special education funding, public health services and research, nutritional aid for low-income mothers and babies, child care assistance, low-income housing assistance, and job training programs) on top of the deep cuts already in place. Ryan’s proposed 10-year $791 billion cuts to domestic discretionary spending would reduce funding to its lowest levels since modern government accounting, far below spending in the Reagan years.
Specifically, this new Ryan budget:
- Focuses most of its cuts on programs serving low-income children and families. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 69 percent of the Ryan budget’s cuts to non-defense programs over the next decade would come from programs that serve low-income children, families and individuals including Medicaid, SNAP, school lunches and other child nutrition programs, Pell Grants, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the low-income portion of the Child Tax Credit, and Supplemental Security Income (that helps children with very serious disabilities). These cuts would total $3.3 trillion over 10 years.
- Cuts a total of $137 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next decade — 18 percent of funding — by including every major cut that the House passed in the fall of 2013 and by block granting SNAP starting in 2019. The proposed changes would eliminate categorical eligibility for SNAP, the "Heat and Eat" provision used by 15 states and the District of Columbia to coordinate SNAP with LIHEAP (The Low-Income Household Energy Assistance Program), and put in place new work requirements. Under a block grant, states would decide which SNAP benefits to reduce or terminate. Today, the program already provides an average of only $1.40 per person per meal — primarily to poor children, working poor parents, seniors, people with disabilities, or others struggling to make ends meet.
- Block grants Medicaid, repeals the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, slashing a total of $1.5 trillion over 10 years, $792 billion from repealing the expansion and $732 billion in additional cuts. The $732 billion cut would be a 19 percent drop in federal Medicaid and CHIP funding. Block granting shifts the costs to the state and is likely to result in reduced benefits, higher costs for enrollees, and worse access to care. Repealing the Medicaid expansion alone would lead to 13 million people losing their new coverage or losing eligibility in the future.
- Eliminates funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) after FY 2015, and merges CHIP with Medicaid. This would eliminate the only health insurance program specifically for children, resulting in higher costs and less comprehensive coverage for millions of children. Additionally, at a time when the number of uninsured children is at a record low, it could result in the loss of coverage altogether for almost 2 million children.
- Repeals the entire Affordable Care Act, which has already brought relief to millions of Americans, including 7.1 million who have recently gained coverage through the new health insurance marketplaces, 3 million young adults who have been able to stay on their parents health insurance, and millions more who have received preventive care at no cost. At least 40 million low- and moderate-income people — 1 in 8 Americans — would become uninsured by 2024.
- Makes it harder for low-incomes students to get college financial aid by cutting Pell grants by more than $125 billion over the next decade and freezing the maximum grant for students even as tuition continues to increase, worsening inequality of opportunity.
- Repeals the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and the Community Development Block Grant. SSBG provides funding to states for the provision of child care, health services, and employment services, while the Community Development Block grant helps communities build affordable housing and expand job opportunities.
The vision of the future for children under this new Ryan budget is bleak, yet the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee has already passed this budget. The good news is that there are other, positive visions for children. President Obama’s FY 2015 budget proposal and the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ “Better Off Budget” both meet CDF’s budget principles to varying degrees by protecting children and low-income families from budget cuts, investing in children to promote long-term economic growth for the nation, and ensuring that the most advantaged Americans and corporations pay their fair share.
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