How do you spend your money? It’s a deeply personal question – in a world of limited resources, what you choose to buy or forgo is often a reflection of what you value, how much you value it, and where you want to see yourself in the future. This principle holds true in Washington D.C. as well. When policymakers come out with budget proposals, it reflects their values and priorities for the nation, and their vision for the future. So in June, when the House Budget Committee passed a Budget Resolution to cut $6.5 trillion over 10 years, with significant cuts to important supports for families trying to make ends meet, policymakers gave their constituents a preview of what they value and where they see the nation in the future.
Budget Resolutions are intended to create a blueprint for federal government spending and revenue over a particular time period. While Budget Resolutions are not binding decisions, they can set the stage for significant changes in tax or spending laws.
Take last year for example. Congress passed the Concurrent Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2018, which ultimately set the stage for the federal tax bill. That Resolution allowed the tax bill to move with only partisan support on an expedited timeline. The bill resulted in substantial changes in the U.S. tax code, largely favoring profitable corporations and high-income individuals and families. But it left out provisions that would have prioritized the millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet and failed to pay for the tax cuts contained in the bill.
The recently proposed House Budget Resolution would pay for those tax cuts through reductions to important programs that make it possible for people to have food on the table or go to the doctor. The proposal includes:
- $2.1 trillion over 10 years in cuts to health care that will harm people who see doctors through Medicaid, individuals who buy health insurance on the individual market, seniors who rely on Medicare, and folks with pre-existing conditions;
- $17 billion over 10 years in cuts through the elimination of the Social Services Block Grant that funds child and adult care services, home-delivered meals, employment supports, and adoption services;
- $923 billion over 10 years in cuts to income security programs including food assistance that helps keep nutritious food on the table for kids, parents, seniors, and others who can’t afford basic necessities; and cash assistance that helps people buy diapers or fill up their tank with gas so they can make it to work; and
- An expansion of paperwork requirements in food assistance, cash assistance, and Medicaid, making it harder for folks to get food, stay healthy, and afford the basics.
Our communities are stronger and more prosperous when we and our neighbors are succeeding. Investments that provide breakfast for growing kids and doctors’ visits for people fighting cancer matter to all of us. But the vision put forward in the Budget Resolution creates a false choice between supporting our friends and neighbors when they hit a rough patch and protecting our economy. Let’s not fall into that trap. Let’s instead make the choice to invest in our communities so that everyone has a chance to succeed.