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  2005-02-08-Bush budget reaction
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2005 blog


Jewish members of Congress
mostly critical  of Bush budget,  Feb. 8, 2005

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."

Sen. Norm 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 economy."

Sen. Russ 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."

Sen. Dianne 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."

Sen. Herb 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.

Sen. Carl 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."

Sen. Joseph 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."

Sen. Charles 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."

Sen. Arlen 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 subcommittee.

"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.”

Rep. Jan 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." 
   Donald H. Harrison