Sutton (D) Blasts Bush Budget Plan
It was quite a coup when Rep. Betty Sutton (Copley Township), newly elected in the 13th Ohio Congressional District to replace Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon), was named to the powerful House Budget Committee last month. She's not wasting the opportunity. Yesterday her office issued a stinging press release about the proposed budget for FY 2008 released by the White House on Monday:
"The budget represents backwards priorities at odds with the needs of Ohioans and Americans. . . . [It] is a clear demonstration of how the President has chosen to ignore America's domestic needs for investment in education, energy, healthcare, veterans, and economic development in favor of protecting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. . . .She is not alone in this assessment. The $2.9 trillion budget is very generous to the military (11% increase) and to wealthy Americans (the Bush tax cuts would be made permanent), but sharply cuts domestic spending. Although the Bush administration claims that its budget will restore fiscal discipline, that claim is dubious at best when judged by past performance. "They have consistently understated the effect on deficits and debt of their budget, and unfortunately America is going being to be in deep hock after this administration leaves town," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-NE) yesterday.
"The budget released by the President yesterday is fiscally irresponsible and ignores the needs of the American people. The President's misleading accounting and his rosy projections do nothing more than create the illusion of a balanced budget. Unfortunately, what it adds up to is bad policy and red ink. This is the same reckless spending plan that has turned the $5.6 trillion surplus the President inherited into a $2.8 trillion dollar deficit. Enough is enough.
Sutton also assails the budget for failing to permanently fix the Alternative Minimum Tax, which due to inflation is an ever-increasing tax burden on the middle class. Cuts to health care spending, however, receive her harshest criticism:
"The effects that the President's proposed budget would have on healthcare are unacceptable. This proposal would add to the already 242,000 uninsured kids in Ohio by not providing the sufficient funding to maintain coverage for the children already enrolled in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)."Cuts to veterans' benefits and to block grants for fire departments and community development are also big targets for the Democratic lawmaker:
"The President provides no real solutions for our health care crisis in the budget. No solution to the 87% increase in healthcare premiums that we have seen in Ohio since 2000, no initiative to help the 1.3 million uninsured Ohioans, and no mention of how skyrocketing premiums will endanger access to affordable healthcare for Ohio's 1.7 million Medicare beneficiaries."
"This budget neglects our veterans in failing to provide adequate funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and will make it difficult for Ohio's 982,000 veterans and troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to receive the accessible, affordable, and quality care they deserve.She also objects strongly to the continued spending on Iraq (included in a budget proposal for the first time), citing "the advice of military experts and the will of the American people to bring an end" to that conflict, and to the incorporation of Bush's privatization scheme for social security. She concludes by recognizing that "the fiscal disaster the Republicans left us with is going to force some tough budget choices" and "we can't fund everything," but she pledges to "align our priorities with the needs of the American people - the need to insure our children, protect our seniors and veterans, and put the middle class ahead of tax cuts for the wealthy."
"The President's budget cuts Assistance for firefighters by 54% of their funding, falling from $662 million to $300 million. Last year this vital program awarded over $14 million to Ohio fire departments. This funding is critical to help fire departments secure the equipment and training they need to keep our communities safe. Other grant programs suffered significant cuts. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) were cut by $1.2 billion. These programs are essential to help small communities and Americans address the challenges of providing affordable housing and economic development for their citizens."