Jewish members of Congress were sharply critical of President George
W. Bush's proposed budget following its release Feb. 7.
"Incomplete and unacceptable," was the verdict of Sen. Barbara
Boxer (D-Calif.). "It doesn't include the cost of the war in
Iraq. It doesn't include the cost of the war in Afghanistan. It doesn't
include the true costs of making the tax cuts permanent and it doesn't include
the costs of the President's plan to destroy social security."
Coleman (R-Minn.) said "there are some areas where I think the
President’s budget got it totally wrong. The cuts and changes to the community
development block grant (CDBG) program – the lifeblood of community
development and revitalization — are nonstarters. The $45 billion in Medicaid
cuts to states seems out of line given rising health care costs and already
strained state budgets. The cuts and changes to the farm safety net,
conservation, and rural development are too deep and set back U.S. agriculture
competitiveness, gains in environmental protection, and rural economic
development on Main Street.
"And while I applaud the overall increase in funding for veterans, the new
enrollment fees on some veterans for health care treatment and the increased
prescription drug co-payments in the president’s budget have been proposed in
the past and rightly rejected," Coleman said. "Finally, I am troubled
about proposals in the budget eliminating education and training programs, like
Vocational Education and Upward Bound, at a time when up-scaling our workforce
is critically important to competing in an increasingly globalized
Feingold (D-Wis.) said that by failing to include such costs in his budget,
"the President does a disservice not only to taxpayers today, but to our
children and grandchildren who will bear the cost of that debt."
Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that because of the costs of the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan and making the tax cuts permanent, "the only way President Bush
can even provide an appearance of bringing the budget into balance is to make
substantial and dramatic cuts in domestic spending. As a result, local law
enforcement, health care, education, community development block grants and
transportation—programs that are vital to our nation and provide the mainstay
of our infrastructure, refurbishment and expansion—experience major cuts in
the President's budget.
"President Bush claims to be taking our nation down
the road toward cutting budget deficits in half, but an examination of his
budget demonstrates that when all the costs are included the deficits will grow
even larger under his spending plan, burdening our children and their children
with huge tax bills to pay down the debt."
Kohl (D-Wis) said "as this process moves forward, we should be
committed to lowering the deficit, but we should not do so at the expense of
meeting other pressing needs, including creating new jobs, ensuring that our
troops have the resources to complete their mission, protecting our homeland and
funding education programs."
One bright spot Kohl did find in the budget was the fact that it included a
two-year extension for the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program that Kohl
had urged to protect dairy farmers when milk prices plummet.
Levin (D-Mich) said Bush's budget "reflects the wrong priorities for
America. His FY 2006 budget would deepen the deficit ditch by making tax
cuts, which go largely to the wealthiest Americans, permanent. At the same time
his budget proposes cuts in many programs that affect America's families
and communities, like education, environmental protection, funding for highways
and sewers small business loans, and programs important for manufacturing states
like Michigan like the Advanced Technology Partnership program and the
Manufacturing Extension Partnership program."
Lieberman (D-Conn) said the portion of the President's budget dealing with
homeland security "tells me that the administration has not yet committed
to fully funding the war on terror at home. I am shocked and troubled that, once
again, the Administration is seeking to slash vital funds to equip and empower
our nations first responders, reducing them to second rate status. In
particular, the key state homeland security grant programs would be cut by $480
million, or more than 30 percent. This is the second straight year the
administration has sought this assistance, which forms the backbone of most
states' homeland security effort."
Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that "with a national debt that is skyrocketing,
privatizing Social Security and making the tax cuts permanent will increase the
per capita burden to $25,000—a birth tax that is inexcusable."
Specter (R-Penn.) said as chairman of the subcommittee on labor, health and
human services and education of the Senate Appropriations Committee he is
concerned that the proposed budget "puts at risk critical funding for
the National Institutes of Health and other important priorities of the
"For more than a decade, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and I have alternated on
the subcommittee chairmanship with a seamless transfer of the gavel. We have
more than doubled funding for NIH, which has made enormous progress on working
toward cures for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease and other
deadly or debilitating diseases. Those gains may be nullified unless increases
in funding continue.
"Funding for Pell Grants, which has received considerable public attention,
is only one of many worthy education programs deserving continued support. The
president's support for increased money for Pell Grants is commendable, but
there is no net gain to education if those increases come from cutting or
eliminating other important programs. The tight budget will make it difficult to
provide adequate funding for Head Start, special education, No Child Left Behind
and mentoring at-risk students."
In the House, Rep. Bernie
Sanders (I-Ver) said "it is not acceptable to give permanent tax breaks
to millionaires and billionaires, and then cut funding for veterans who have put
their lives on the line defending this country. It is not acceptable to provide
billions in corporate welfare, and cut health care funding for lower income
Americans, as well as education and the environment. I will do everything I can
to get Congress to reject this budget, and come up with one that is fair to the
middle class and working families of Vermont and America.”
Schakowsky (D-Ill) said it was an "outrage
that President Bush would put the interests of millionaires ahead of the
well-being of veterans, seniors, the poor, and the working class. By
limiting the tax cuts to the first $200,000 in income, there would be an extra
$19.2 billion in revenues, enough to avoid cuts in veterans health care,
education, and environmental cleanup.
“President Bush has gone on
the attack," Schakowsky added. "The Bush budget is a weapon of mass
destruction aimed squarely at true and proven programs that improve the quality
of life for low and middle income Americans. This is a morally
reprehensible budget that clearly demonstrates President Bush’s lack of
compassion, misplaced priorities, and warped values."