An Immoral Budget
The following is an email I received from Marian Wright Edelman, founder and Director of the Children’s Defense Fund. I have written a letter to my local paper denouncing this budget and using figures from this letter. I hope you will follow suit.
America’s children suffered a terrible blow last night. The Congress passed an unjust Budget Resolution that will force major cuts in critical investments that low-income children need to survive and thrive. As the blueprint for the FY 2006 budget, the resolution sets spending limits on discretionary programs, forces cuts to mandatory programs and establishes the size of tax cuts for Congress to pass later this year.
The vote in the House was 214-211, and the vote in the Senate was 52-47. In the House, 195 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 15 Republicans voted against the conference report on the resolution. All those in favor were Republicans. In the Senate, 43 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 3 Republicans voted against the conference report, while 52 Republicans voted in favor.
We at the Children’s Defense Fund thank all of you who put your hearts, minds and souls into trying to defeat what ultimately is an irresponsible and harmful Budget Resolution that cuts programs serving our most vulnerable children and families:
Mandatory Programs: The budget requires that mandatory programs be cut by $35 billion. For example, the Senate Finance Committee must cut $10 billion from the Medicaid program. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees must cut $3 billion, leaving the food stamp program vulnerable to reductions. These committees must report their legislation by September 16, 2005, and Senate floor action will follow.
Domestic Discretionary Programs: The budget caps domestic discretionary program funding at $843 billion. These are for federal programs funded through the annual appropriations process. This cap will mean $24 billion must be removed from the budgets for Head Start, education, housing, and nutrition programs such as WIC for fiscal year 2006. The process for choosing which cuts to make will begin in May and must be completed by the end of September.
This Budget Resolution paves the way for irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy and an exploding national debt:
Tax cuts: The budget authorizes the Congress to pass $106 billion in unpaid-for tax cuts, of which $70 billion can be passed by a simple majority instead of with the possibility of extended debate. The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are required to report their tax cut legislation by September 23, 2005.
CDF Action Council’s Campaign to Stand for Justice for Children and the Poor made our voices heard.
While we ultimately were not able to stop Congress from passing this reckless deficit-raising budget as we hoped, our voices along with those of thousands of other organizations and advocates who mobilized their members, had a significant impact:
- The Medicaid cut was reduced by half from the original House proposal of $20 billion to $10 billion.
- Aside from Medicaid, no mandatory programs will be cut by the Finance Committee; vital programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), foster care and adoption, TANF, Supplemental Security Income (for people with disabilities), child support, and unemployment insurance were protected.
- Cuts in Agriculture programs, most likely to come from the food stamps program, were reduced from $5 billion to $3 billion.
These are major accomplishments, but they did not make this budget acceptable.
Millions of our children will suffer twice from this unjust action. Today they will be denied vital investments in their health, early childhood development and education. In the future they will be saddled with a crushing debt in order to lavish more tax benefits on the rich.
The budget measure approved by Congress will severely damage the framework of policies and funding levels that was crafted over many decades to protect the vulnerable through the Medicaid, Head Start and other programs. While the tax cuts primarily benefit the wealthy, they starve our nation of the resources essential for our children’s health, education, safety and community stability. This is not right or sensible.
This is not the time to retreat. From now until September, as Congress reports legislation on appropriations, mandatory spending reductions and tax cuts, our voices must be heard. Working together, we will influence Congress to shape those changes to best protect low-income children and their families.
Don’t underestimate the impact your efforts have already had on the budget process. Your continued advocacy is more important than ever, as we continue to stand for justice for the children and the poor.
 Fifteen House Republicans voting no on the conference report of the FY 2006 budget resolution: Bass (NH), Boehlert (NY), Castle (DE), Goode (VA), Green (WI), Gutknecht (MN), Johnson (CT), Johnson (IL), Jones (NC), Leach (IA), LoBiondo (NJ), Ramstad (MN), Saxton (NJ), Shays (CT) and Simmons (CT). Three Senate Republicans voting no on the conference report of the FY 2006 budget resolution: Chafee (RI), DeWine (OH), and Voinovich (OH)
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