Speaking Out! House proposed budget is mean-spirited
House proposed budget is mean-spirited
Child advocates are alarmed at recent House plans that would sacrifice services children and families rely on. The House will vote on a proposed federal budget later this week that promises huge cuts to feeding programs, health services and more.
The federal budget
Given the nearly total gridlock on Capitol Hill, the House seems to know that a federal budget isn’t likely to pass before the election. Freed from the consequences of their plans, House members have indulged in massive cuts they can brag about on the campaign trail. But even if these cuts don’t go beyond the House, they are still disturbing for the way they target child services.
Low-income families lack lobbyists, and they make easy targets for cuts. Nearly two-thirds of the cuts would come from programs that help needy children and families, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Food stamps, now known as SNAP, is hit hard, with the new budget expected to eliminate 1.8 million people from the program. This is especially callous considering that around half of SNAP recipients are children. And because children in families that receive SNAP benefits are automatically eligible for free and reduced school meals, some 280,000 children whose families will lose their SNAP benefits under this bill will also lose access to school programs.
The House budget would also permanently repeal the Social Services Block Grant, eliminating $1.7 billion in support for daycare, adoption, protective services and more. That plan, from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, would also effectively exclude immigrants from collecting the Child Tax Credit, which helps working families with the costs of raising children. Subsidies that would help low-income families afford health coverage are also in danger.
These budget reductions slash below even the stiff cuts imposed by the deal that ended last fall’s budget standoff (the debt ceiling debacle). The cuts follow the blueprint of the House budget resolution that passed along party lines earlier this year (which Voices described at the time as “brutal”).
As a note on process, the House is seeking to do this through “reconciliation,” which you may remember was also how the hotly contested health reform law was passed. In all, House committees were instructed to find $261 billion in cuts to mandatory programs over 10 years. It’s a shame that American children must be the ones to have to come up with most of it.
Student loan debate moves to the Senate this week
The interest rate for some federally subsidized student loans could double this summer unless Congress acts. Recently, the House passed a measure that taps health prevention funds to keep student loan interest rates down.
Obviously Voices wants to prevent a spike in the cost of college for students and families, but not at the expense of health services. Both programs help ensure the security of many of the same working-class American families; pitting them against each other is lunacy.
Without congressional action by July 1st, low-and-moderate income students across the U.S. will be at risk for their loans to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. If this increase occurs, the average student will see their education costs go up by about $1,000 per year of school, according to a report released last week by the Young Invincibles, Center for American Progress, Campus Progress, and U.S. PIRG.
The House would raid health reform’s Prevention and Public Health Fund to prevent the student loan increase. According to the latest breakdown on the HHS website, this fund is currently supporting child immunizations, breastfeeding promotion, nutrition and anti-obesity activities, tobacco prevention, racial and ethnic approaches to community health, and programs to help communities fight chronic diseases.
This week, the debate moves to the Senate. Unlike the House measure, the Senate bill is paid for by closing a loophole that makes it possible for some companies to avoid paying Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes.
On behalf of Americans who depend on student loans and cannot afford to shoulder higher interest rates, Voices urges quick resolution.