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

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work