GOP Budget Would Slash Medicare, Medicaid

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

A Senate Democratic analysis of the Republican-written budget blueprint for the fiscal year that began October 1 -- passed on party lines in the panel’s Budget Committee on October 5 -- says it would cut the growth in Medicare and Medicaid money by $1.47 trillion over the next decade.

That’s enough to pay for the tax cut for corporations and the rich GOP President Donald Trump and Congress’ ruling Republicans plan to jam through Capitol Hill by the end of 2017.

The analysis of the budget blueprint lays out how it would enrich the rich and large corporations and hurt everyone else, just as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka predicted the week before, by cutting the two big social programs and then going after Social Security.

The GOP tax cut the party budget allows “gives the top 1 percent a $207,000 tax cut. The bottom 20 percent get 50 bucks,” the Economic Policy Institute, quoting the non-partisan Tax Foundation, reported.

Besides the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid growth, the GOP budget plan would throw 700,000 seniors and low-income people off of winter heating aid through a $4 billion cut over 10 years, for example. It would also cut $6.5 billion for the women, infants and children feeding program, eliminating aid to buy healthy food for 1.25 million women and kids over the decade.

And it cuts Pell Grants to the lowest-income students to attend college by one-third, while cutting $200 billion in mass transit grants, the Senate Democrats calculated.

“This budget is the Robin Hood principle in reverse,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., top Democrat on Senate panel. “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, the Republican budget takes from the middle class and those in need, and gives huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country.

“While this budget would cut Medicare by at least $450 billion, it would give billionaires, including the Trump family, huge tax breaks.”

The House Republican budget, also jammed through that chamber on a 219-206 vote on October 5 – with 18 Republicans joining all the Democrats in voting “no” – does the same thing, says Rep. John Yarmouth, D-Ky., the House Budget Committee’s ranking Democrat.

He called it “a shockingly extreme document that gives to the rich and takes from everyone else. It calls for more than $5 trillion in spending cuts that threaten our economic progress and our national security, and it willfully ignores the needs and priorities of the American people.

“This budget isn’t about conservative policy or reducing the size of our debt and deficits. It’s not even about American families. This budget is about one thing – using ‘reconciliation’ to ram through giant tax giveaways to the wealthy and big corporations -- and to do it without bipartisan support,” Yarmouth said.

The budget resolutions open the way for a “reconciliation” bill, where the Senate GOP can jam the tax cut through with only 50 Senate GOP votes, plus Vice President Mike Pence as a tie-breaker, out of the 52 Republican senators. And rules ban a Democratic filibuster.

“The budget would make it harder for children to get a decent education, harder for families to get the health care they desperately need, harder for families to put food on the table, harder to protect our environment and harder for the elderly to live their retirement years in dignity,” Sanders said.

“The Republican budget is a massive transfer of wealth from working families, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor to the top 1 percent.” It “was written for the billionaire class, for Wall Street, for corporate CEOs and for the Koch brothers. It is the exact opposite of what America stands for and must be defeated." 

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work