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Rep. Chris Van Hollen Headshot

The Republican Budget Casts a Dark Shadow Over the American Dream

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The reckless Republican budget casts a dark shadow over the American Dream. By gutting vital investments in our future, it is a direct attack on job creation and a recipe for our nation's economic decline. It provides perverse tax incentives to ship American jobs overseas while shortchanging investments in jobs here at home. China and other economic competitors will eat our lunch in the global arena if we make deep cuts in areas that help power our economy -- scientific research, innovation, education, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and modernizing our core infrastructure. The Republican budget also rejects one measure that could immediately unleash more economic activity and grow our economy -- comprehensive immigration reform.

Students will see deep cuts to education. Seniors on Medicare will immediately pay more for preventive health services, those with high prescription drugs costs will see prices skyrocket, and it will mean the end of the current Medicare guarantee. Millions of seniors in nursing homes will be especially hurt by the irresponsible cuts to Medicaid.

This dog-eat-dog budget is nothing short of an assault on Americans struggling to stay afloat economically. It reveals that Republican's post-election talk about seriously addressing poverty issues was just that -- talk. During the last election, Governor Romney stated that he wasn't focused on the 47 percent of struggling Americans, and this Republican budget sets out to prove it. It absolutely decimates safety net programs designed to stop people from falling into deep poverty. It is premised on the false and pernicious notion that helping struggling families saps their will to work. This is apparently the Republican plan -- take away food and nutrition support and jobs will sprout up; give children dignity by taking away school lunch programs; slash Medicaid because poor people are just lolling around in Medicaid hammocks. Faith groups have criticized past Republican budgets as failing to meet basic moral standards. This budget is the worst yet.

The Republicans say these bitter austerity measures are needed to reduce the deficit. But if that is really their paramount concern, why do they refuse to close a single special interest tax break to reduce the deficit? Republicans say they don't want to pass on debts to future generations, but apparently don't care enough to end a single break for the Koch brothers and other special interests? Why place all the burden of deficit reduction on the middle class, kids, seniors, and hard-working Americans who make their living earning wages rather than profits on tax preferred hedge funds and stock options?

Finally, the Republican claim that their budget balances in 10 years is simply a fraud. Their budget would not balance without the revenues and savings included in the Affordable Care Act, which they have voted to repeal or undermine more than 50 times and claim to repeal again in their budget. They cannot have it both ways.

Elections are about the future. Republicans may be obsessed with fighting the battles of the past, but the American people are not. They want Congress to focus on jobs, the economy, and building a stronger future for themselves and their children. That's why the new Republican budget is timely -- it shows what the future holds if Republicans get their way, and is a deeply pessimistic vision of America. It will result in slower economic growth and widening income inequality. It will further empower entrenched special interests while dimming the American Dream for everyone else. We can do so much better. The president has presented the Congress with a budget that will help boost job growth, sharpen America's global competitiveness, expand opportunity, and treat all Americans with dignity and respect. We now have two starkly different visions for the country -- and that is what elections are about.

The new Republican budget would condemn America to economic decline, undermine the American Dream, and shred the social compact. By rigging the game in favor of the wealthy and privileged special interests while dismantling the ladder of opportunity for everyone else, it violates the fundamental promise that every hard-working American should have a fair shot at success. The Koch brothers could not have written a better plan to serve their special interests. Many will dismiss the relevance of this budget given the fact that it will not pass the Senate this year. But every American should read this budget and take it seriously because it reveals what Washington Republicans will do if they have the power to impose their will.