Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03) voted against Congressman Paul Ryan's Tea Party-inspired budget, because it would harm our nation's recovery, destroy jobs, and punish seniors and lower income Americans to reward millionaires, billionaires, and oil companies with more tax breaks. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a 219 to 205 vote, with almost every Republican Member of Congress voting for it and every Democrat voting against it.
"If enacted into law, this extreme Tea Party-inspired budget would wreck havoc on my district and communities across America," said Congressman Garamendi. "Construction on levees in flood prone Sacramento Valley communities would be delayed. College students would shoulder even more debt. Agricultural researchers at UC Davis would see their groundbreaking work halted. Seniors in Rio Vista would see their health costs skyrocket. Struggling families in my district would see food, housing, and health care taken away from them."
He added, "As our nation climbs out of a deep recession, this budget would kick us back down. It would eliminate the jobs of three million Americans by destroying engines of growth: education, research, and infrastructure. This budget increases hardship for the working and middle class while it presents millionaires, billionaires, and oil companies with massive tax breaks. These priorities are backwards. Let's work together to develop a more thoughtful and foresighted plan."
The Ryan Budget takes an axe to desperately needed services in Medicare and Medicaid. Under this budget, people 55 and under will be forced into a voucher coupon system as a replacement for traditional Medicare, subjecting future Medicare enrollees to many of the same flaws, vulnerabilities, and unscrupulous practices found in for-profit health insurance. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that this type of system would raise the cost of Medicare Part B premiums by 50 percent.
This budget also raises the age of Medicare eligibility to 67, exposing many Americans vulnerable to age-related illness to a prolonged gap in insurance coverage.
"Medicare as we know it is once again under attack in this Tea Party plan. You'll never see me vote to destroy the bedrock institution that prevents absolute destitution among seniors. We all deserve to retire with dignity. We all deserve the Medicare guarantee -- not insurance coupons," Garamendi added.
This budget also ends the Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act and it block grants Medicaid, slashing about $732 billion over 10 years from Medicaid/Medi-Cal. Medicaid covered more than 67 million people in 2012, including 32 million children, 5 million seniors, and 11 million people with disabilities. Medicaid is an indispensible support net for lower income families in America and a program of vital importance to seniors. Long-term care for seniors in America is principally paid for by Medicaid, including 40% of total nursing home costs.
The Ryan Budget cuts important funding to education, research, manufacturing, and infrastructure -- the building blocks of innovation and job growth.
Moreover, this budget fails to act on emergency unemployment insurance, despite the fact that more than two million Americans, including 180,000 veterans, desperately need this funding to see their families through a difficult job market. 193 Members of Congress, including Congressman Garamendi, signed a discharge petition to require a vote on the House floor on unemployment insurance, but it's been blocked by the House Republican Leadership. The Senate is currently moving forward with a bipartisan plan to address emergency unemployment insurance this week.
Tax Cuts for the Rich Paid for By Cuts to Food Aid for the Poor
The Ryan-Tea Party budget would cut taxes for millionaires by over $200,000 a year. It also protects tax loopholes for Big Oil and for corporations shipping American jobs overseas.
These drastic reductions in tax revenue for the benefit of the richest Americans are offset by gutting services for vulnerable Americans, including the Medicaid program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Despite sizable reductions to SNAP in the past year, the GOP budget proposes an additional $125 billion cut over ten years, directly taking food away from millions of lower-income children, seniors, and disabled people.
An additional $385 billion in cuts beyond SNAP would harm other programs for low- and moderate-income Americans, including school lunch and child nutrition programs and the Earned Income and Child tax credits for lower-income working families. In fact, the plan would raise taxes on middle class families with children by an average of at least $2,000.
Under the Ryan plan, at least 40 million low- and moderate income people -- that's 1 in 8 Americans -- would become uninsured by 2024.
The Ryan Budget cuts $260 billion from college aid, including $145 billion from Pell Grants. It also includes a new requirement that interest begin accruing on college loans while low-income students are in college.
In California alone, 51,350 fewer students would receive Pell Grants.
This would cause tremendous harm to students in the 3rd District. Approximately 63% of UC Davis undergraduates are awarded family income-based federal grants, and 41% are designated low-income and awarded Pell Grants.
In addition, 24% of budget cuts target early childhood, elementary, and secondary education, including Head Start. In 2013 facing sequestration budget cuts, the Migrant Head Start program covering Sutter, Yuba, and Butte counties was forced to turn away 42 children and cut staff wages. Under this budget, the consequences would be dramatically worse. Statewide, 21,140 fewer children would receive Head Start services.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Under this budget, investments in transportation would be cut by 26.1 percent. This would destroy thousands of jobs and further contribute to America's deteriorating roads, bridges, levees, and public transit. Projects in the 3rd District could be threatened, including levees along the Feather and Yuba rivers. Federal support for Amtrak in California would be eliminated, including support for the popular Capitol Corridor route that services the 3rd District cities of Davis and Fairfield/Suisun.
"America needs a comprehensive jobs bill that invests in our infrastructure. The Ryan budget takes us backwards. Under this bill, we'd be investing less in our crumbling roads, bridges, and levees, and that will only lead to fewer jobs and a worse economy," Garamendi said.