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Rep. Charles Rangel Headshot

GOP: 'Let Them Eat Cake'?

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On Monday, President Obama released his budget for fiscal year 2012. The president's budget targets the concerns and the need to invest now for a better future for our families, communities and our great country.

On the other hand, the Republican budget that was released last Friday is severe and irresponsible because it gives tax benefits for the wealthiest few, while destroying jobs and harming middle class families, young adults, seniors and even veterans. Are the Republicans saying, "Let them eat cake"?

At a time when America needs to out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build the rest of the world, the Republican plan would cut training for more than 200,000 unemployed who need skills to compete in the workplace, and reduce Pell Grants from $5,550 to $4,705. Many of the 9.4 million students who are projected to receive these need-based grants in the 2011-2012 school years would have to take out more loans to afford their college tuition and fees or delay their education.

More than 3 million at-risk children won't be able to receive educational support as a result of GOP's plan to cut vital funding for programs such as Jumpstart and Headstart.

Their plan to reduce funds for Corporation for National Community Service would also severely impact community projects like the Harlem Children's Zone, a neighborhood-based network of services in my Upper Manhattan District -- it will leave tens of thousands of children without help and teachers without jobs.

When it comes to the GOP agenda, one thing remains abundantly clear: The reckless cuts in their spending bill will be devastating. Their proposal means loss of 800,000 private and public sector jobs, including firefighters and cops for our communities, fewer teachers and larger class sizes, and elimination of assistance to homeless veterans.

And "so be it," House Republicans say.

Democrats have said we will measure every effort by whether it creates jobs, strengthens the middle class, and reduces the deficit. We agree with the president that we should live within our means and invest in our future.

The president's budget would continue implementing health reform, which will provide health coverage to an additional 32 million people by 2019 while reducing the budget deficit by $1.4 trillion over the next two decades.

In contrast, the Republican CR slashes Medicare funding, making it likely that we will not be able to pay doctors on time or continue inspecting health care facilities to ensure safety for seniors and disabled Americans.

The president's budget reaffirms our commitment to paying people the Social Security benefits they earned on time, and would bring waiting times for disabled workers who are appealing benefit denials under a year for the first time in a decade.

In contrast, the Republican CR would close the Social Security office for a month, making half a million people wait for their Social Security benefits.

The president's budget invests in proven strategies to reduce overpayments and increase tax compliance, saving taxpayers $162.7 billion dollars just by enforcing the law.

In contrast, the Republican CR slashes funding for those critical program integrity initiatives, letting overpayments and errors continue into the future.

While the president's plan is not perfect, Democrats and I look forward to working with him to develop a strategy to reduce the ballooning deficit, while we continue to create jobs, spur innovation and support economic growth.

I hope my Republican Colleagues would join us in this effort to win our future together -- because whether we're rich or poor, black, white, yellow or brown, the well-being of our country is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but ultimately an American issue.