I think you'd be hard pressed to find any reasonable person who thinks reducing the federal deficit is a bad thing.
But don't be fooled by the Republican rhetoric on the budget. The House Republican proposal that was introduced by Representative Paul Ryan yesterday isn't really about reducing our national debt.
No, the Republican plan is about imposing extreme right-wing ideology on Americans, and the result could spell disaster for millions of seniors, children and families.
In crafting his reckless budget, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) claims he has a "moral obligation" to cut entitlement programs. But that claim rings false: While Republicans are proposing deep cuts to programs for seniors on the one hand, they're proposing huge, unneeded tax cuts for the wealthiest people in America on the other hand.
This is a debate about fairness and common sense. While the richest in the nation are given huge tax breaks, Republicans hope to slash $1.43 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid over the next 10 years.
This will have a devastating impact on seniors and their families. Medicare is primarily intended for people over 65 years of age, and the Medicaid program is the largest single payer of long-term care, including half of all nursing home costs.
That means the proposal will inevitably result in seniors losing the nursing home and other long-term care that they need at a time when they are the frailest.
It also means younger family members will have to give up their jobs so they can take care of their parents and grandparents full-time, putting a larger financial strain on families who are already struggling in our economy.
But seniors aren't the only ones who would be harmed by the House Republicans' budget proposal.
More than 26 million children depend on Medicaid for access to basic health care services. Cutting billions in funding to this vital program means the most vulnerable Americans will see their safety net disappear.
And as for the future of the program itself, the House Republican proposal essentially ends the program as we know it and converts it to a privatized voucher. In the process, seniors will bear a larger and larger cost burden -- and for many it will be unaffordable.
Beyond the proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, the House Republican budget substantially increases income taxes for middle-class families. It does so by eliminating tax credit subsidies, scheduled to go into effect in 2014, that are designed to help middle-class families pay for health insurance. This means that if you're a family of four with an annual income of $45,000, you stand to lose a tax credit worth $10,400.
So, to recap, the House Republican budget would cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans while:
- Dramatically cutting health care services for seniors;
- Putting more than 26 million children at risk of losing access to basic health care;
- Forcing family members to give up their jobs so they can care for their elder relatives; and
- Raising taxes on struggling middle-class families.
You can see what the impact of the House Republican budget would be on your state by clicking here.
And one last point. The budget proposal put forth by the Republican leadership ALSO includes deep cuts to funding that is critical to implementing the Affordable Care Act. It's the latest attempt to derail and eliminate the act, and the damage would be devastating:
- Almost 4 million seniors could lose help paying for their prescription drugs;
- 3.4 million young adults could be kicked off their parents' health plan;
- 4 million small businesses could lose tax credits that help them cover their employees; and
- 57 million Americans who have a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage, simply because they had the misfortune of getting sick.
These cuts aren't really about addressing the deficit. Indeed, due to the extension of the tax cuts for America's most affluent people and other tax giveaways, this plan increases the deficit.
These cuts are about attacking progressive priorities that don't fit within extreme right-wing ideology -- and the end result would hurt millions of Americans across the country.
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