Rahall Calls Passage Of Budget Bill A Blow To W.Va. Families
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) called the House passage of the budget reconciliation bill "a major blow to the State of West Virginia and its families" and predicted hard-working Americans will carry the burden of the deep budgetary cuts.
"The State of West Virginia and its families will be particularly vulnerable to the cuts made by this reverse-Robin Hood budget," said Rahall. "This fiscally irresponsible budget will squeeze tightly on the middle class and means more debt for America's children."
The Republican-written budget guts a number of essential programs West Virginia families and their pocketbooks. Cuts include a staggering $11.9 billion in student aid.
"At a time when we are trying to strengthen America's defenses, the Republican leadership's budget bill is a pirate raid on student aid that will rob directly from the hope chests of America's families," Rahall said.
Seventy percent of the gross savings in higher education in the conference report are achieved by increasing college loan costs for parent borrowers and by continuing the practice of forcing student and parent borrowers in many cases to pay excessive interest rates on their loans.
"Investing in education today will create a stronger, more capable America for the future," Rahall said. "On the one hand, the President offers more proposals in his State of the Union about strengthening math and science education, while on the other hand the Republican leadership takes away from that with $11.9 billion in cuts. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out these formulas don't add up."
The budget will also cut Medicaid by $6.9 billion over five years. According to a study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office, millions of lower-income Americans will have to pay more for health care and prescriptions and some of them will forgo or drop out of Medicaid completely because of the high payments and premiums.
"These cuts to Medicaid are a bitter pill to swallow," Rahall said. "At a time when there are already 46 million Americans without health coverage, why would anyone support a budget bill that will cause countless others to fail to get the coverage that will keep them well?"
In addition to cuts to Medicaid and student aid, the GOP budget will slash $1.6 billion over five years in reduced child support collections upon which hundreds of thousands of struggling single parents rely, pushing more children into poverty and letting deadbeat dads off the hook.
"Letting child support go unpaid not only will reduce the resources available to single parents and their children, but also will harm efforts to strengthen families by keeping both parents financially and emotionally involved in their children's lives." Rahall said. "This is something none of us can afford."
Rahall urged the Republican leadership to restore adequate funding and cease its slash-and-burn policies as the President prepares to submit his FY 2007 budget request to Congress on Feb.6.
"I am hoping to see a budget proposal that is more in line with the priorities of West Virginians, not in line with the priorities of the wealthy few," Rahall said. "Hard-working Americans deserve better and we can do better."