The power of a democracy is that when you take a look at budgetary proposals, they reflect the values of the people. First and foremost, is the value of family and what it means to a democracy like the US. The goal is to protect the family and in protecting families, you protect children. Children, tantamount to leaders and visionaries who illuminate our hopes for the future, are caught in the center of brutal debates and far-reaching legislation. Its impact can be measured across and through generations for years, if careful, intentional thought is not given to what is being proposed.
Intentional, realistic, reasoned and balanced thinking in decision making is the marking that is needed as there are a number of forces that help shape the budget process. Public opinion, as stated, which includes people values, and highly complex laws of course guide this very difficult discourse. As the appropriation process makes its way through a number of drafts and rewrites, it is ultimately released publicly. Everyone interested, gets an opportunity to take a look at what is being proposed and how it might affect specific constituency groups across the nation. The federal budget is most critical. It not only sets a precedent. It impacts the nation and the world. From the largest city to the smallest town, its force of will, is incomparable.
A few days ago, the Republican House released its budget. In it were a number of proposals that directly impact the family, and in particular, women and children. Any budget that has as far-reaching impact as the federal budget, that impacts this specific citizen group, at the levels is said the Ryan budget does, should attract the attention of reasoned minded individuals as a bipartisan approach to ensuring women and kids are not the acts chosen to balance spending.
In the weeks to come, County Impact aims to look at all budgets crossing public thresholds and present them on this blog. No position is taken at this time other than, County Impact believes the voice of the poor especially in rural economically distressed regions of the country with a history of persistent poverty, is lacking in public discourse. It is drowned out by high stakes of money, power and the influence both bring. County Impact understands that both money and power are innate to the political process. However, because the culture of politics is what it is, does not mean that County Impact agrees with how power and influence are used. It believes, that power used in a reasoned, prudent manner, has a great potential of gathering and gleaning in both neighborhoods of wealth and poverty. Towards that end, County Impact takes a closer look at budget proposals and its potential impact on women and their families beginning with the Ryan plan.
The resource used to explain the potential impact of the Ryan budget on women and their families, is the National Women’s Law Center. It has taken a close look at the Ryan plan and provides the following perspective (the Ryan plan is outlined below along with other links).
Below is a repost of a Blog Post by the National Women’s Law Center on the impact of the Ryan Plan on women and their families:
The budget for Fiscal Year 2014 introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), like his Fiscal Year 2013 budget, proposes deep funding cuts that would devastate programs especially important to women and their families: Medicaid, Medicare, child care, education, SNAP, and much more. At least two-thirds of the cuts proposed in the Ryan budget come from programs for individuals and families with low or moderate incomes – and that means women and children bear the brunt of the cuts. At the same time, the budget proposes trillions of dollars in new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations.
- Slashes and dismantles Medicaid. The Ryan budget cuts Medicaid by more than $750 billion over 10 years and converts the program into a block grant, forcing states to restrict eligibility, eliminate benefits, shift costs to beneficiaries, and/or cut provider payments. Medicaid cuts would especially hurt women, who make up nearly 70 percent of adult Medicaid beneficiaries. And they would cost women jobs, since 80 percent of Medicaid-supported jobs are held by women.
- Repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would prevent up to 15 million women from gaining access to affordable health coverage through expanded Medicaid coverage or private plans offered through health insurance exchanges. Repealing the ACA would also:Replaces the Medicare guarantee with a premium support voucher for people currently under 55. The voucher would likely be inadequate to purchase traditional Medicare coverage, so costs would be pushed onto beneficiaries – a majority of whom are women, who already struggle to pay higher out-of-pocket health care costs out of lower incomes.
- increase the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries
- increase the cost of preventive care services (including contraceptive services)
- allow insurance companies to continue to charge women higher premiums than men, deny coverage to women and men due to preexisting conditions (including domestic violence), and refuse to cover maternity care.
- Cuts non-defense discretionary programs by $1.1 trillion over 10 years. This portion of the federal budget funds vital programs including child care, Head Start, education, job training, Pell Grants, housing and energy assistance, food safety, environmental protection and more – many of which women disproportionately rely on.
- These cuts would come on top of cuts occurring due to funding caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) – which by themselves would bring non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest levels in over 50 years as a share of the economy. The Ryan budget reduces non-defense discretionary funding by $1.1 trillion below the BCA caps over 10 years – that’s $700 billion below post-sequestration levels. Such deep cuts could not be implemented without serious harm to women and their families.
- On the defense side of the discretionary budget, however, the Ryan plan would cancel the sequestration cuts for all years starting in 2014 and fund defense programs at the BCA cap levels.
- Cuts mandatory income security programs by $800 billion over 10 years. Seventy percent of this part of the federal budget funds programs for lower-income Americans, including many that are especially important for women.
- For example, the Ryan budget cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps) by nearly 18 percent over 10 years – the equivalent of cutting 12 to 13 million people. About two-thirds of adult SNAP recipients are women. It also adds time limits and work requirements to SNAP benefits and converts the program into a block grant that would not respond to increased need during recessions.
In addition, the Ryan budget freezes the maximum amount for Pell Grants in the face of rising tuition costs and restricts eligibility for this assistance, which helps low-income students pay for college. Two-thirds of Pell Grant recipients are women.
Other cuts in this area are not specified, but this part of the budget also includes Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provides income support for low-income individuals who are elderly or living with disabilities, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which funds cash assistance, work supports, and other services for low-income children and parents. Cuts to these programs would disproportionately hurt women, who represent over two-thirds of elderly SSI beneficiaries and 86 percent of adult TANF beneficiaries.