Tag Archives: Orin Hatch

Ryan Budget Adopted On Party Line Vote

On Thursday, April 10, by a vote of 219 to 205 the House approved a budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 96) crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). All Democrats and 12 Republicans voted against its final passage.

Ryan claims the proposal would balance the budget within ten years. To get there it makes significant cuts to entitlements including block-granting Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps) and it makes additional cuts to the Pell education grants. H. Con. Res. 96 also converts Medicare to a “premium support” proposal (what is referred to as turning Medicare into a voucher program) and eliminates the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG). In total it proposes over $5 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years, which according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities would make over 70 percent of those cuts to programs that assist low income families.

The block-granting of Medicaid would cut funding for the health care program by $732 billion. States would have flexibility in spending their Medicaid funds, but as the aging population grows with baby-boomer retirements, there will be enormous pressure to pit spending for long term care against spending for children, low income families, and the newly eligible adults covered through the Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148). The block grant would include an adjustment based on inflation and population growth over time, but previous block grants adopted with similar gradual increases did not retain them long. For example, SSBG and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The supplemental grants under the TANF block grant that were intended to assist 17 states due to future population growth and low funding was cut out by Congress in 2011.

The weakening of programs through block granting is ironically highlighted as H. Con. Res. 96 not only proposes to convert SNAP and Medicaid into block grants, but also proposes the elimination of the former entitlement-based funding source: SSBG. SSBG continues to be a target for elimination and its future is in doubt if the Senate changes party control after next year’s election. A proposal by Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT), the potential chair of the Finance Committee, which has over-site of the program, would funnel all of SSBG into child welfare, while his House counterparts would use all of it for deficit reduction. SSBG needs the attention of advocates NOW before it goes!

The Ryan Budget is a Plan for Future Cuts

Last week House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his budget resolution for this year and the future. Although a budget resolution is not necessary to enacting appropriations this year (due to the budget deal from earlier this year, P.L. 113-67), Ryan unveiled the proposal to outline just how he would cut programs to balance the budget in the future. The proposal block grants the Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP/food stamp) programs, changes Medicare to a ”premium support” program (what some refer to as turning Medicare into a voucher program), eliminates the Affordable Care Act, and once again totally eliminates the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG).

On Wednesday the Budget Committee adopted the plan in a party-line vote and the House leadership hopes to adopt the resolution by the full House. There are some Republicans balking at a vote since it cannot become law this year with the Senate certain to not even consider it. Some are concerned that it puts members on record regarding such changes to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs. If it is to pass the House, leadership will not be able to lose too many Republicans. The budget is significant, because it is a road map for the House leadership next year. Next year Congressman Ryan may shift his role from Budget Committee chair to become chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which holds direct oversight of many of the programs subject to cuts.

SSBG continues to be a target for elimination and its future is in doubt if control of the Senate changes after next year’s election. A proposal by Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT), the potential chair of the Senate Finance Committee, would funnel all of SSBG into child welfare while his House counterparts would use all of it for deficit reduction. It is increasingly likely that this significant source of human service funding could be drastically changed or even eliminated. Such an outcome would cut human services and harm vulnerable children, families, seniors and people with disabilities. At this point silence or the status quo will not help. SSBG needs the attention of advocates NOW before it goes!