GOP Budget Slashes Education and Health Services

On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his much-anticipated 2012 budget proposal. Ryan calls his program The Path to Prosperity, which it probably is – if you happen to be rich and are looking to get richer. If, on the other hand, you are a middle-class American who values public education and affordable health care, you’re in for a rough ride.

Even as the federal government lurches toward a shut down this weekend – because of right-wing lawmakers insisting on draconian cuts to critical services – Congress still is looking ahead to the next fiscal year. On Tuesday, a House budget committee will take a look at Ryan’s proposal for 2011-2012.

In a letter to the budget committee, NEA’s Kim Anderson and Mary Kusler, director of government relations and manager of federal advocacy, respectively, wrote: “The budget resolution should reflect the priorities of our nation. Unfortunately, the proposed budget reflects the wrong priorities, choosing to meet arbitrary budget targets on the backs of the middle class and our most vulnerable populations.”

The proposed budget ignores proven educational research, slashes programs for children and the elderly, and undermines this country’s economic improvement. While it claims it would pay down the debt, the plan would achieve those savings by foisting the cost of Medicaid and Medicare onto the backs of state legislatures – which clearly can’t afford it.

Its key provisions would: First, turn Medicaid into a block grant program. (Of the 68 million people covered by Medicaid last year, half were children.

“Children who lack access to health care services are less likely to come to school healthy and ready to learn and to succeed academically,” Anderson and Kusler explained. And it also would convert Medicare into a voucher program. And don’t think that it won’t be rejecting the sickest patients – or charging higher premiums to the oldest.

Second, it would cut Pell grants for needy college students. How exactly does kicking kids out of college help this country become more competitive? Without the federal commitment to student financial aid, Anderson and Kusler point out, there will not be enough educated, skilled Americans to sustain economic recovery, or to secure our nation’s future for the next generation.

Third, it would extend the District of Columbia voucher program – at a cost of more than $300 million. “It is simply wrong to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools while cutting programs that help millions of students in public schools,” said Anderson and Kustler. “Pulling 1,200 children out of a system that serves 65,000 doesn’t solve problems – it ignores them.”

NEA takes the nation’s fiscal challenges seriously, but it is working with lawmakers to find long-term solutions, based on proven educational research. Consider this: A high school dropout earns about $260,000 less over a lifetime than a high school graduate and pays about $60,000 less in taxes.  America loses $192 billion—1.6% of our GDP—in combined income and tax revenue with each cohort of 18-year-olds who never complete high school.

NEA urges House lawmakers to consider an amendment by U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, of California, that would maintain funding for Head Start, elementary and secondary education, and do so by cutting tax breaks for wealthy corporations and closing tax loopholes for companies that choose to do business overseas.

“Our nation’s economic strength and future success depend on our ability to innovate, educate, and compete in the global marketplace,” Anderson and Kusler wrote. “Failing to invest when investment is called for is a plan for permanent austerity, not long-term success.”

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Take Action on the Ryan Budget Proposal

For more information on funding issues, visit Education Funding on NEA.org

  • Ryan Y

    Metaphor: Our country is like an obese person with diabetes, heart disease, among other dire conditions, and left on our current path we will die. If we listen the Democrat dietitian (Dr. Harry Reid), he would say we should not concern ourselves with the calories consumed, and that we’ll simply out grow our weight. He also says the rich are at fault, because they hoard all the treadmills and weight machines and faced with that, what else could we do? He doesn’t want us to suffer and feel hunger pains so he continues to offer us Cheetos, Pepsi, and cookies. After all, it’s a thyroid condition.

    On the other hand,

    The Republican dietitian (Dr. Paul Ryan) seeing our dangerous condition is deeply concerned and wants to see us on the path to health. He prescribes a “Biggest Loser” type of plan to save our lives. It will take time, extreme pain, and effort, but in the end we’ll live to be thankful, and seeing our example, our kids will model their lives off of us, insuring prosperity for the future.

  • D.B.

    Ryan and the Republicans don’t care anything about America’s future. They want to secure their future. Why didn’t they vote for a tax increase on the rich? We as Americans need to look deep at their true intentions. The Republcans use lies to cover up their true folly. What he propose is a diaster to Education and Healthcare for our Children, Elderly, Poor and the Middle Class. We need to realize by looking at the Economy today and the last eight years of Republican reign.

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  • Ryan Y

    D.B.,

    U.S. Federal Corporate tax rate: From 25% to 35%
    China’s Tax Rate: 25%
    Hong Kong’s Tax Rate: 14% – 15.5%
    Germany’s Tax Rate: 33.3%
    Brazil’s: 25%
    Canada’s: 34%
    India’s: 33.99%
    Russia: 20%

    This illustrates why our coporations are less competitive internationally and why they either move their operation off-shore or why they hide their assets. Rep. Ryan’s proposal closes tax loop holes and ends corporate subsidies. It then lowers our tax rates to be more competitive.

    Don’t you want our corporations to succeed? With economic success, don’t they reinvest into their company which creates more jobs and higher wages?

    Demonizing corporations and rich people simply demonizes those who provide Americans with jobs.