Augusta Free Press

Jill Hanken: Ryan budget proposal is an outrage

The health and well being of low and middle income Americans is being threatened by the Budget Resolution proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). It would slash income and opportunity for millions of regular American families while shifting trillions of dollars to the wealthiest individuals and corporations.

Will your elderly relatives need Medicaid for their nursing home or other long term care? The proposal would turn Medicaid into a fixed block grant, forcing states to either pick up more health care costs or cut their programs. Virginia’s Medicaid program serves nearly one million elderly, disabled, children, and pregnant women each year. A full 70% of Virginia’s Medicaid spending is for elderly and disabled people. But our program is already one of the leanest in the country, now ranked 48th in the nation in per capita Medicaid spending. A block grant would make Virginia’s program even more restrictive.

Do you expect to get Medicare when you turn 65? The proposal radically changes Medicare, turning it into a government voucher program for private insurance for seniors who enroll after 2022. This will eliminate current coverage protections and certainly raise out of pocket costs.

Do you know any unemployed workers who needed food stamps to keep their kids fed? The proposal would also convert SNAP/food stamps into a fixed block grant to states, eliminating the program’s ability to respond to economic crises, such as a recession.

Do you want to send your children to college? The proposal would drastically cut Pell Grants for over nine million low and middle-income students. Many simply won’t be able to get a college degree. Other educational programs from pre-school through high school and technical training are also on the chopping block.

This proposal is completely lopsided. Two-thirds of the cuts come from programs that provide essential services to low and middle income populations. At the same time the resolution gives more tax cuts to millionaires, billionaires and big corporations.

Ryan’s budget is not a balanced approach to long term deficit reduction. It is an outrage which should be rejected

Jill Hanken is a staff attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center.