This week, the House of Representatives voted to pass a package introduced by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that includes major spending cuts to healthcare, education and nutrition programs in exchange for lifting the debt limit so the United States can avoid default. The bill reflects the upside down priorities of the GOP majority in the House of Representatives, putting tax breaks for the rich and corporations ahead of healthcare and services that people depend on to make ends meet and take care of their families.
Republicans are justifying the massive cuts to programs in the federal budget by focusing on the national debt, while refusing to take any responsibility for helping to increase the debt through their tax giveaway policies like the Trump tax cuts for the rich. Tax cuts for rich people and wealthy corporations cost the rest of us by draining money from the economy and giving away revenue that is better invested in education, jobs, infrastructure and services.
The GOP legislation doubles down giving more tax breaks to the rich. It would roll back tax collection on households making over $400,000 and extend the Trump tax breaks for the wealthy, a move that would add $3 trillion to the national debt according to the Tax Policy Center.
Meanwhile, it would cut funding for benefits and services that millions of families depend on for healthcare, groceries, public safety and other services. Slashing funding will cut support for veterans, mental health care, nursing home inspections, maternal health, cancer research, pandemic preparedness, and much more.
It includes a 22% cut in funding to the Veterans Health Administration, a move that would be disastrous for veterans. Not only would a cut like this mean the loss of 81,000 jobs across the VA, but it would also result in longer wait times and more missed appointments. It’s simple: this plan would mean sicker veterans and lost jobs.
Veterans aren’t the only ones who would have a harder time accessing the healthcare they need. Under McCarthy’s plan, stricter documentation for work requirements would strip Medicaid coverage from millions of Americans, and, importantly, would hurt low income people while failing to increase employment. Medicaid already requires people to work to be eligible. Adding even more administrative and bureaucratic red tape is wasteful, costly, and does nothing to improve either health care access or jobs.
The GOP plan would also place more stringent work requirements on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that would cut grocery budgets for millions of low-income people and make it harder for older people to get food stamps. SNAP benefits are already shrinking. The Republican bill would further decrease access to SNAP, putting 10 million people—or 1 in 4 current recipients—at risk of losing nutrition support.
House Republicans claim to care about the national debt, but they are cutting programs while at the same time proposing to spend more money on tax giveaways that will only add more to the national debt burden. A recent study shows that the Republican tax cuts of the past 25 years have significantly increased the federal debt as a share of the economy. The report from the Center for American Progress finds that those tax cuts enacted by Republican Congresses and Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump—which both disproportionately benefited the rich and profitable corporations—will have added $10 trillion to the national debt by the end of this year.
The last thing Americans need is cuts in services and more tax breaks for the rich and corporations. An estimated 18 million people could lose Medicaid coverage as enrollment shrinks over the next year because of reduced funding to Medicaid. Millions of people with private coverage are struggling to afford prescription drugs and people in 10 states have no access to affordable coverage because Medicaid expansion was never implemented.
Elected leaders in Congress should stop playing political games. It’s time to do the right thing for the economy by raising the debt ceiling so the nation can continue paying its debts, to stop throwing away money for the super rich, and to stop cutting healthcare and education for the rest of us.