Tag Archives: Ryan Budget

Madness in March

Repro Rights Madness** Nevada’s own Sin City Siren has an outstanding Bracket, created especially for those who are interested in seeing how state and localities across this country are competing to see which can have the most regressive, reactionary, and repugnant statutes limiting the rights of women to make their own decisions (as in Small Government?).   Do click over and copy the brackets, and then share them with family and friends!

** The Nevada Progressive updates information about the continuing Soap Operas which are the lives of former Mega-Lobbyist Harvey Whittemore and the ever charming but perhaps a shade duplicitous Heidi Gansert.  Steve Sebelius added another page to the continuing drama that is Assemblyman Steven Brooks (D-NLV).  For the video version, see Ralston Reports.

*** The Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus reprints a good piece from Jim Hightower on how the GOP wants to transform Medicare into “We Don’t Care.”  For a refresher course in how Republicans have the wrong end of the stick on the Medicare issue, consult this March 10th post in Perrspectives:  In Five Charts. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-LoonyTunes) should get more exercise dodging questions from reporters about how she substantiates her claims on the floor of the House that the Affordable Care Act “kills people.” [ThinkProg]  For those in the fact based universe:

While the main coverage expansion provisions will go into effect in 2014, the ACA has so far saved seniors over $6 billion on prescription drugs, reduced administrative overhead, deterred private insurers from requesting double digit premium increases, kept millions of young people on their parents’ health care plans, and provided 34.1 million people with Medicare preventive services without additional cost-sharing. [ThinkProg]

*** And, if we thought the continuing Management by Crisis thing was over in House Republican quarters — here comes Speaker John Boehner with the Demand, (Demand I say), that every dollar increase in the debt ceiling (The Debt Ceiling I say) will “require a dollar in spending cuts.”  Another day, another manufactured crisis.   Before one gets too hysterical about The Great Big Debt Crisis — read “Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor Are Trying To Con You Into Paying Their Debts. ”

*** Things we could be talking about if it weren’t for the manufactured debt “crisis” compliments of the GOP majority in the House of Representatives:

(1) The report that nearly two out of three hate crimes committed in this country goes unreported. [The Grio]

(2) The filibuster of Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. [TPM]  Of District Court nominee Elissa Cadish, who withdrew her nomination after Senator Dean Heller (R-NRA and Shooting Sports Foundation) questioned her bona fides on the unrestricted and unlimited right to pack shoulder firing missile launchers as prescribed in the 2nd Amendment. [Bloomberg] Or, the filibuster of Appeals Court nominee Caitlin Halligan, who had the temerity to do her job and participate in a lawsuit of behalf of the City of New York in a lawsuit again gun manufacturers. [Bloomberg]  Or the hold placed on the nomination of Scott C. Doney, to head the NOAA — Mr. Doney relinquished his nomination. [NOLA] Or, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO, and Tobacco Industry) placing a hold on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the EPA, because he has a problem with levee plans, which is interesting because McCarthy’s area of expertise is “fuel efficiency” and clean air administration. [LAT]  Here’s the list of nominations pending in Senate Committees.   Two days ago Bloomberg News oped asked “Are Republicans  Abusing the Filibuster?”  the answer still looks like YES.

***  Perhaps we could even be paying more attention to the latest report card release from the American Society of Civil Engineers on our nation’s infrastructure — hey! we’re up to a D+ now.  But, why worry — Nevada only needs about $2.7 billion to maintain and upgrade our drinking water delivery systems, another $2.9 billion to deal with our sewage; while we have 149 high hazard dams, and 40 structurally deficient bridges.  [ASCE]  Maybe we’re waiting for our kids and grandkids to pick up the bills?

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Filed under Filibusters, Infrastructure, Medicare, Nevada politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Ryan’s Time Wasting Titivation

salchowThe latest version of the House GOP budget proposal in Congress looks very much like previous renditions — lower the tax rates for the top 0.1% of American income earners, and replace the current Medicare program with a coupon/voucher plan. [TPM]   “Re-litigation” comes to mind.   The curious part comes as Representative Ryan, who vilified the $716 billion in savings in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) during the last presidential election, now incorporates those same savings into his budget proposal — while calling for the repeal of the ACA which contains those savings…  This rhetorical contortion looks less like a 360° turn and more like a quadruple salchow.  [more at Business Insider]

Former House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, called the scheme “fuzzy math and budget gimmicks.” [TPM] The point of this budget exercise, is not really to address the long term stabilization of U.S. indebtedness — it IS an exercise in sophomoric political economy; simplistic in form and regressive in nature. Ezra Klein nails it:

“Ryan’s budget is intended to do nothing less than fundamentally transform the relationship between Americans and their government. That, and not deficit reduction, is its real point, as it has been Ryan’s real point throughout his career.”

Or, more specifically:

“Here is Paul Ryan’s path to a balanced budget in three sentences: He cuts deep into spending on health care for the poor and some combination of education, infrastructure, research, public-safety, and low-income programs. The Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cuts remain, but the military is spared, as is Social Security. There’s a vague individual tax reform plan that leaves only two tax brackets — 10 percent and 25 percent — and will require either huge, deficit-busting tax cuts or increasing taxes on poor and middle-class households, as well as a vague corporate tax reform plan that lowers the rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.”  (emphasis added)

Now, why would those be “vague?”  First, it is much easier to dodge criticism of a proposal when the details aren’t available.  Offering a “vague” proposition allows for the “I didn’t really mean that” rationalization when push comes to the inevitable shove.  Secondly, when the arithmetic is fuzzy the extrapolations, of necessity, must also grow furry. What should give the audience room for some trepidation is that this offering from Representative Ryan isn’t the first time he’s run this flag up the pole.  Why could not more rational, detailed, and precise numbers be provided as the budget plan moves through its various incarnations?

The answer may very well be that he can’t be more precise without (a) offending major segments of the electorate, and/or (b) demonstrating that the numbers simply don’t add up to what he is claiming for his project.

In Representative Ryan’s blinkered vision of America, government is more to be feared than the level of indebtedness [Ezra Klein] but this ideological perspective obfuscates the very real role our government plays in this mixed economy.   Programs which provide automatic stabilizers in the economy to mitigate the impact of business cycle volatility, and those which provide citizens with opportunities to increase their standards of living have an impact across the economic spectrum.

CBPP concludes:

“As policymakers embark on the necessary work of further reducing long-term budget deficits, their approach could have important consequences for tens of millions of low- and moderate-income Americans.  If policymakers take an even-handed approach, one that combines spending cuts with an adequate mix of new revenues, they can reduce deficits without increasing poverty and the ranks of the uninsured or weakening efforts to ensure that children have more opportunity to succeed in the classroom and later in the labor market.  If, however, policymakers cut deeply into programs that assist low-income individuals and families, we will likely see more poverty and hardship as well as fewer paths to opportunity.”

The essential problem with perceiving government as a threat to “freedom” is that those programs which keep people from becoming dependent on government assistance in the long run, are those which the Meat Cleaver Republicans would assert in the first wave of cuts in the short term.

For example,  there are significant omissions in Ryan’s latest offering:

“It won’t create jobs this year, and will likely cost jobs in the years to come by putting the economy on a steep austerity ramp. There’s no housing policy for the millions of families in foreclosure and no way to read Ryan’s budget without assuming massive cuts to student-loans programs. That may mean fewer families watching student loans pile up, but only because they didn’t get any in the first place.” [Klein WaPo]

Jobs?  Jobs generate income, income generates both consumer spending and tax revenue.  The impetus may come from federal spending, but the results would be seen initially in local economies.  Paychecks get spent on housing, clothing, groceries, and transportation.  A family with an income sufficient to support the purchase of an automobile generates not only good numbers for the automobile manufacturers, but pays state sales taxes on the purchase, pays gasoline taxes to keep the beast running, and pays license fees to keep highways operating functionally.

Housing?  The “housing market” is a mid-stream economic activity.  Building a housing unit, whether detached or communal, requires raw materials, manufactured materials, and financing.  In short, housing is in the midst of the economic stream of activity, and as we discovered to our collective horror in 2007 when things start to go badly in this milieu the ripples can become tsunamic.  That there is not even a passing nod given to the issues associated with current housing market fragility and the continuing foreclosure issues in Representative Ryan’s budget ought to be demonstrative of his detachment from real economic forces at work.

Foreclosed properties wreak havoc on the homeowners, bring down housing values in neighborhoods, cause a loss in property tax revenue for local governments, and create law enforcement issues where abandoned properties are all too prevalent.  One might have thought that Representative Ryan would at least given cursory acknowledgement to the issues associated with the housing market in his budget priorities?

Education?  There is a link between income, unemployment, and education.

Educations Pays

If we truly want to move people out of poverty, or up the economic ladder, the graph above from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows how the rungs of that ladder are constructed.  Note that when the graph was drafted the national unemployment rate was 14.1% for those with less than a high school diploma, but only 6.8% for those with an associates’ degree.  If we look to the more recent numbers the picture doesn’t change much.

The February 2013 unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma stood at 7.9%; for those with an associates’ degree or some college the unemployment rate was 6.7%.  Those holding a college degree experienced an unemployment rate of 3.8%.  [BLS]

Given this information it would seem logical to conclude that if we want to improve the overall health of the American economy it would be seemly to enhance the opportunities for education, especially post-secondary educational programs.  That’s not what Representative Ryan and his Republican colleagues have on offer:

Ryan would stop increasing the size of Pell Grants to adjust for inflation. Instead, they would stay at the current level, $5,645, for 10 years. Ryan would also change the way the government calculates how much a student’s family is expected to pay to make it less generous.”  [Atlantic]  …

Ryan’s proposal doesn’t spend much time on a key reason Pell Grant awards have increased: rising education costs. Average costs for a four-year institution have risen 250% since 1980 and nearly doubled in the last 20 years. Pell Grant allocations have increased rapidly over the last decade — but that increase isn’t tied to the change for education costs.” [Atlantic]

Education is a labor intensive occupation.  The process can be assisted with technology, but since time out of mind the means by which human beings transmit knowledge — vocational, cultural, economic, etc. — is from human being to human being.  As states cut funding to educational institutions the colleges, tech schools, and universities raised tuition and fees to the “customers.”  The greater the increase in fees, the greater the problem for middle class parents who want to see their offspring move up the educational (and economic) ladder.   Young people are asked to take on a staggering amount of indebtedness to earn a degree, which in turn limits their capacity to participate more fully in the economic life of this nation.  Too much student loan debt means more difficulty purchasing a vehicle, or much of anything else.

The bottom line is that Representative Ryan has simply re-cycled his political document, with its ideological baggage and called it a budget.  While it’s an improvement over the Republican budget document which arrived without numbers in 2009, it’s still an homage to Ayn Rand and her Cult of Selfishness…and very little else, except time wasting titivation.

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Filed under Economy, Federal budget, tax revenue, Taxation

Hurricane Willard: Updated

June 2011

“During a CNN debate at the height of the GOP primary, Mitt Romney was asked, in the context of the Joplin disaster and FEMA’s cash crunch, whether the agency should be shuttered so that states can individually take over responsibility for disaster response.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?”

There’s video of this:

May 2012

“House Republican appropriators on Tuesday revealed that they have decided to ignore GOP budget guru Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on the controversial issue of disaster relief, spending over the discretionary levels set in the 2013 budget.  Ryan’s Budget Committee, in nonbinding report language attached to the House-passed 2013 budget, called for all disaster relief to “be fully offset within the discretionary levels provided in this resolution.” [The Hill]

October 2012

Ron Bonjean, GOP Strategist: “Most people don’t have a positive impression of FEMA and I think Mitt Romney was right on the button. But I don’t think anybody cares about that right now. I think people care about whether or not their power’s on, whether or not their basement’s going to be flooded. And I think that if the president gets too far in front of this and something goes wrong, people are going to remember, hey, my power’s not out, and the president’s talking about FEMA. I’m not a real big fan of FEMA. That could sway their vote.”

The Romney campaign issued this ‘clarification’ ahead of Sandy’s landfall:

“Gov. Romney wants to ensure states, who are the first responders and are in the best position to aid impacted individuals and communities, have the resources and assistance they need to cope with natural disasters.” [Stir]

Remember the Romney-Ryan budget proposal calls for 20% cuts across the board in non-defense discretionary spending.  Their previously issued statements also call for transforming emergency funds into Block Grants for states.  So, whatever disaster strikes the ‘resources and assistance’ would come from the state — not federal resources.   The state of Louisiana would have had to pick up the bill for Hurricane Katrina from its ‘block grant.’  The state of Missouri would have been responsible for paying all emergency services bills associated with the Joplin/SW area tornadoes.  Western states would have to pay for emergency services during wild land fires from their ‘block grants.’

UPDATE: Oh my, the political winds must be shifting because the Romney campaign is out with yet another clarification:

“Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. “As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.” [Politico]

Now he doesn’t want to eliminate FEMA, he simply wants the states to take over — with, one should assume, those block grant funds.

Whose Disaster?

No one has quite managed to clarify how the funds for these block grants would be distributed?  Does Florida get more because it is prone to hurricane devastation?  Does the money sent to Florida mean that less could be sent to Connecticut in the wake of  Nor’easters?  Does money sent to Connecticut and Florida mean there is less available for California in the event of an earthquake?  Does money allocated for Florida, Connecticut and California mean less money in the pot for Indiana and Illinois tornado disaster relief? How much money would we need to assist with emergency services during a Minnesota or North Dakota blizzard?

Governor Romney began his 2011 remarks by saying that the federal government should send as much as possible “back to the states,” and sending it back to the private sector would be even better.

When asked directly about disaster relief he said:

“We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.” [Slate]

Yes, “think of the children…” We are thinking of children.  Children made temporarily homeless by fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes, and their parents aren’t thinking of the ‘national debt’ … they are seeking relief.  As immediately as possible, from a government which  pledges in its Constitution  to promote their general welfare.

So, Governor Romney and Rep. Ryan would remove this pledge and replace it with block grants, the rationale for awards thereof remaining unclear, and with the amounts cut by 20%, to be allocated to states which may or may not need emergency funds immediately, and this is supposed to benefit whom?

Answer: The millionaires and billionaires who don’t want their taxes to be increased from 35% to 39.6%?

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Filed under 2012 election, Disasters, FEMA, Politics, Romney

Playing Percentages With Grandma? Romney-Ryan Medicaid Budget Cuts in NV

The median annual household income in Nevada is $55,726. [Census]  The total population estimate for 2011 is 2,723,322 and of these approximately 12.5% are over 65 years of age.  Some simple arithmetic shows that about 340,415 Nevadans are over 65 years old.   So what?

The question is important because some of these individuals will need home care services to deal with infirmities, some will need assisted living to remain independent, and others will require institutional care, aka nursing facilities.

As we can see from the Kaiser Family Foundation graph above,  more Medicaid resources have been allocated for home and community based care since 1995.  Long term care, which prior to 1995 meant institutional care for the most part, is now 43% home/community based health care services.   The issue now becomes do we want to fund the Medicaid program at a level which will allow more low income  Nevada residents over the age of 65 to remain at home, or do we cut program services such that we cope with only the most medically fragile?

The family issue, for that household earning the $55,726 annually, is how to provide care for an elderly relative who requires medical assistance beyond the financial capacity of the family to provide but who doesn’t need institutional care?  There is no answer to this inquiry from the Romney/Ryan budget.

In fact, if as Senator Heller and some of his colleagues recommend,  we repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and do what the Republican ticket suggests — transform the Medicaid program into a block grant scheme — we cut approximately 38% from Medicaid services. [KFF pdf]  If we drill down into state by state statistics, if Obamacare were repealed and the Ryan Budget was adopted our Medicaid program in Nevada stands to lose about 44% of its funding. [KFF pdf]

No one would (or should) be so callous as to suggest we slash funding for those with the most serious medical needs, especially those who need nursing facility care.  However, if we’re looking down the line at a 44% reduction in Medicaid funding for state services then the obvious cuts would come “at the margins.”

Who’s marginal?  Are low income single mothers with two dependent children under the age of 6 marginal?  Are low income elderly persons who can still function — albeit barely —  independently marginal?

The Medicaid program in Nevada* is an insurance program which pays servicers to perform some or all of the following tasks:

-Adult Day Care
-Assistance Shopping for Essentials
-Caregiver Respite
-Case Management
-Companion Care
-Meal Preparation
-Personal Care
-Personal Emergency Response System (PERS)

* In order to qualify for the Nevada Home and Community Based Waiver as of 2012, the applicant’s monthly income must be less than $2,094.  Their countable assets must be valued at less than $2,000.

Now, how many families can afford privately financed adult day care, companion care, housekeeping help, meal preparation, personal care, and shopping assistance? On $55,726 a year?  On an income of approximately $2,000 per month?

The obvious conclusion is that perhaps the Republicans are advocating for Crowded Housing?  If they bemoan the fact that recent college graduates are staying home with parents in a tight economy, think how much more familial the entire living situation becomes when the grandparents — or Uncle Festus or Aunt Minerva — move in?  Especially when the elderly relatives are simply in need of the kinds of home or community based services likely to be declared marginal in cost cutting binges?

While this might all sound a little facetious, the fact is that most houses in the U.S. ( some 67%) have two or three bedrooms. [Census] Every parent’s dream for when the offspring depart, be it the new guest room, the man cave, the sewing room — whatever — fails when a no long total independent older relative needs a safe place to live.

A modicum of concern for middle income families who are struggling to maintain their standard of living might be in order.   If we can assist middle income families with the costs associated with the care of a low income elderly relative; if we can chip in a bit so that a low income  elderly person can remain independent as long as possible — then why is is necessary to cut 44% of the Medicaid program in Nevada so that millionaires and billionaires won’t have to revert to paying the income taxes they were paying back in the Clinton years —  39.6%.  (They are current paying 35%.   All this for 4.6%. )

Let’s guess that the hedge fund managers and Wall Street wizards won’t be decimated by a 4.6% tax increase, but a 44% reduction in Medicaid funding in Nevada will have a profound effect on the other 99.99%.

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Filed under 2012 election, Health Care, health insurance, Heck, Heller, income tax, Medicaid, Nevada economy, Nevada politics, Romney, Taxation

Chalkboard Talk: Heck, Amodei and the Ryan Budget

Specifics and explanations are available here.

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Filed under 2012 election, Amodei, Heck, Nevada politics, Politics

Catching Up: A Roundup of Good Reading

** Click on “expand” to see the Worker’s Voice advertisement which reminds Nevadans that Senator By Appointment Only™ Dean Heller (R-NV) voted not once, but twice, to end Medicare as we know it and to replace it with a coupon (voucher) plan primarily benefiting health insurance corporations.   Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV1), Heller’s opponent in the 2012 Senate race has a cogent op-ed concerning what Heller’s position would cost senior citizens in Nevada.

** About that GOP claim that President Obama “cut” some $716 Billion from Medicare — BOGUS — what the Affordable Care Act really did was save $716 Billion by reducing taxpayer subsidies to health care corporations for profitable Medicare Advantage plans, and cut waste, fraud, and abuse from the system.  NOTHING IN THE ACA CUTS MEDICARE PROGRAMS FOR THE ELDERLY.  By the way, the Ryan Budget plan cuts about the same amount from Medicare, but uses the money to protect tax cuts for the top 1%.

**  Oops?  David Stockman, former Reagan budget guru has a few words for the Romney/Ryan Budget, compliments of Charlie Pierce at Esquire Magazine:

“The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e. the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends. The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station.” [NYT]

But wait, Mr. Stockman hasn’t gotten to his closing:

“In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.”  [NYT]

Many of Mr. Stockman’s proposals will be unpalatable to Democrats, however he’s right on target about the credibility void and “empty sermons” in what is supposed to pass for “big ideas” in the Romney/Ryan fiscal policy.

Rep. Ryan, staunch defender of the Mega-Mogul, and lieutenant of the Blazing Pants Brigade, will be in Las Vegas to meet with our resident Republican Money Pot, Sheldon Adelson, and to hold a “rally” of the all-white faithful chorus of The Church of the Empty Sermon.  More at The Examiner.

** Not convinced that the GOP’s offering for the 2012 election is all about protecting the Merger & Acquisition Kings of Wall Street?  Then read the Atlantic’s analysis which posits that under Ryan’s plan Mitt Romney would pay 0.82% in federal taxes.

**  Flashback to March 2012:  “A budget plan introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would add more to the deficit over 10 years than if Congress kept the status quo, undermining claims of its fiscal impact.  Ryan’s blueprint, “The Path to Prosperity,” would add $3.127 trillion to the deficit during the decade spanning 2013 to 2022, according to a table on page 88 of the plan.”  [The Hill]

There’s more from TDB:

“Everyone knows by now that Ryan’s budget would replace Medicare with a voucher whose value declines over time. His cuts to Medicare and other health care programs would total $2.4 trillion over the next ten years. But despite that, and despite all the domestic spending cuts in his plan, Ryan still doesn’t get anywhere close to balancing his own budget. That is because even by his own estimate, he reduces revenue by $2 trillion over the same period. His budget relies on optimistic economic assumptions about the stimulative effects of tax cuts, and many of his rate reductions are similarly supposedly offset by unspecified loophole closings, so the real revenue loss would be much greater.”  (emphasis added)

**  MUST READ: “Frank Luntz Messaging Ordered By NRCC” in Crooks & Liars.   A Taste: “Do not say: ‘entitlement reform,’ ‘privatization,’ ‘every option is on the table,’” the National Republican Congressional Committee said in an email memo. “Do say: ‘strengthen,’ ‘secure,’ ‘save,’ ‘preserve, ‘protect.’”   This makes it very clear, because if the GOP says “don’t say” we can reasonably assume that they mean “privatization.”

There’s more over at the Booman Tribune worth reading as well.   Perrspectives sums it up, “Now, Mitt Romney and his Republican allies are counting on Americans having short memories and bad math skills. For today’s Party of Lincoln, the message for 2012 is clear: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and that’s our target market.”

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Filed under 2012 election, Adelson, Berkley, Heller, Medicaid, Medicare

Amodei, Heck, and the Ryan Budget Impact on Nevada

It is all well and good to discuss federal expenditures in general terms, and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with calling for the reduction of waste, fraud, or abuse of federal funding.  However, it’s another matter entirely when the brass tacks must be counted.   Nevada Representatives Amodei (R-NV2) and Heck (R-NV3) voted in favor of H. Con. Res. 112, on March 29, 2012 [roll call 151] and for the Ryan Budget 2.0.  There are many sharp political tacks in this budget.

Rep. Ryan’s budget would cut approximately $3.3 trillion in funding for programs for low income Americans over the next 10 years.  [NYT]  Of the total $5.3 trillion in budget cuts in non-defense spending over the next ten years, some 62% would be shaved from programs like Medicaid, SNAP, and Pell grants. [CBPP]

Specifically, under the terms of the Ryan Budget Nevada would lose $1.7 million in funding for Headstart programs in 2013, and an additional $5.9 million in 2014.   Some 812 enrollment slots would be closed to Nevada youngsters, along with approximately 300 Headstart related jobs lost. [NEA] Did Representatives Amodei and Heck mean to vote in favor of closing Headstart to 812 little citizens of Nevada?

The reductions in SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) are even more problematic.   The CBPP explains more fully:

Chairman Ryan’s budget calls for block-granting SNAP in 2016. Under a block grant structure, the program would lose its ability to respond automatically to the increased need that results from rising poverty and unemployment during economic downturns. Annual federal funding would remain fixed, regardless of whether the economy was in a recession or how severe a downturn was. As a result, the House Budget Committee staff’s estimate that the Ryan plan would cut SNAP by $133.5 billion over ten years may understate the magnitude of the cut — the cuts would be still more severe if the economy performs less well over the coming decade than CBO currently projects.

In addition, the Ryan budget would require the House Agriculture Committee to produce $33 billion in savings over the 2013-2022 period via reconciliation instructions. It is not clear whether these cuts would be in addition to the recommended $133.5 billion in SNAP cuts. The House Agriculture Committee could produce savings from any combination of mandatory programs under its jurisdiction, including farm, conservation and nutrition programs. As a result, the net impact of the Ryan budget on SNAP could be even larger than the recommended $133.5 billion in cuts.

Remember, that SNAP (aka Food Stamps) is one of those automatic stabilizer functions of the economy which kick in when the economy goes south such that the ‘sting’ of a downturn is mitigated.  Thus, what Representative Ryan is proposing, and Representatives Heck and Amodei have adopted, is that we remove one of the key stabilization features of our national economy, with the obvious result that future downturns are more severe and potentially more difficult to overcome.

So, what would this mean for Nevada?  There are 351,000 Nevadans at risk for losing SNAP benefits, with a 0.84 ($ billion) proportional distribution cut during the period 2013 to 2022.  [CBPP] Did Representatives Amodei and Heck mean to place 351,000 Nevadans at risk of hunger? Did they mean to cause a significant loss to Nevada’s share of SNAP funding from the federal government?

The average per student Pell Grant in Nevada would be cut by about $800.  CSN defines the grant program succinctly: ” For many students, Pell Grants provide a foundation of financial aid to which other aid may be added. The maximum amount a student may be eligible for in the 2012-2013 academic school year is $ 5,350, but the amount varies depending on such factors as allowable cost of attendance, full or part-time enrollment, on or off campus residence and in-state or out-of-state residence.”   In short, cutting Pell Grant funding for Nevada’s college and university students means (a) They have to find more financial aid from their families, or (b) They need to take out more student loans.  Either way, students and/or their parents would emerge from educational programs even more deeply in debt.  We’ve invested $30,094,674 in Pell Grants for Nevada students, [DoEd] so are Representatives Heck and Amodei telling Nevada families that educating their sons and daughters for 21st century jobs is “unaffordable,” and that we should place a higher priority on preserving tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires than on educating Nevada college students?

Pell Grants and Headstart aren’t the only victims of the Ryan Budget axe, Title I  funding is also at risk.  Nevada stands to lose $5.9 million in funding cuts for schools which serve low income students in FY 2013, and another $20.9 million in FY 2014.  These cuts would affect approximately 38,905 youngsters in Nevada, and could potentially cost another 320 jobs in a state which is just beginning to recover from the 2008 Great Recession.  [NEA pdf] Did Representatives Amodei and Heck mean to cut funding for Nevada schools serving low income students?

Special Education is also on Ryan’s chopping block.  Nevada schools stand to lose about $4 million in FY 2013 and another $14 million in FY 2014.  These cuts would mean that the state or the individual school districts would have to assume the costs associated with educating about 2,660 young people in FY 2013 and 9,220 in FY 2014.  Approximately 220 jobs could be lost. [NEA] Did Representatives Amodei and Heck really mean to place special education services for 11,880 Nevada students in jeopardy?

Some of the deepest cuts in the Ryan Budget 2.0 are reserved for Medicaid.  The Ryan Budget would cut approximately 14 million people from Medicaid services by 2022.  Further, it slashes about a third of its funding.

“The Urban Institute estimated that Chairman Ryan’s block grant proposal of last year would lead states to drop between 14 million and 27 million people from Medicaid by 2021 (outside of the effects of repealing health reform’s Medicaid expansion) and cut reimbursements to health care providers by 31 percent.” [CBPP]

About 67,000 Nevadans who are elderly or disabled depend on Medicaid for health care services.  The program has helped 12,000 people stay in their homes for long term care rather than having to resort to more expensive residential nursing facility services.  [FamUSA] If Medicaid funds were cut by 33% to Nevada that would mean a reduction of $342,746,000, and 5,480 health care service jobs would be at risk. [FamUSA]

Did Representatives Heck and Amodei intend that the state of Nevada pick up another third of the costs for caring for the elderly poor or disabled in our state?  Did they mean to cut federal funding such that 12,000 individuals might have to be cared for in more expensive facilities?  But, wait — it could get worse, as federal funding declines, health care costs rise at least with inflation, and states get more strapped for revenue, what does happen to those 67,000 Nevadans who depend on Medicaid?  How do Representatives Heck and Amodei suggest they cover their health care expenses?

Did Representatives Heck and Amodei really intend to vote in favor of legislation which destroys Medicare as we know it?   The original reason for the Medicare program was that health insurance corporations did not see selling health insurance policies to the elderly as a profit maker, and thus the policies were expensive, restricted, and complicated.  It is all jolly to suggest raising the eligibility age to 67 and provide vouchers (coupons) to offset policy costs, but in reality all the Ryan Budget does is to toss senior citizens back into the private health care corporation policy hunt, and offer a colossal  federal (taxpayer) subsidy to private health care corporations.

We can know three things for which Representatives Amodei and Heck voted on March 29, 2012:

1. They voted to extend all of the expiring tax cuts, including for the very wealthiest Americans, at a cost of more than $5 trillion over 10 years.
2. They voted to cut the top personal and corporate income tax rates to 25 percent, eliminating the alternative minimum tax, exempting all corporate profits earned overseas from tax, and other tax changes at a cost of about $4.6 trillion over 10 years. The top one percent of households would receive 45 percent of the benefits of these new tax cuts; 65 percent of the benefits would go to the top five percent.  The bottom 80 percent of households would get only about 20 percent of the tax benefits.
3. And, they voted without specifying how these new tax cuts would be paid for, yet proposing to maintain the current preferential 15 percent tax rate for income from capital gains and dividends (a clear advantage for the very wealthy who receive the largest portion of investment income).   Depending on how and whether the new low tax rates for the very wealthy and corporations are paid for, they could result in a massive shift of the responsibility for paying taxes to the poor and the middle class, even deeper cuts in services for middle- and low-income people than those already in the Ryan budget, or trillions of dollars in additional debt.  [NWLC] (emphasis added)

Never have 228 Representatives, including Representatives Heck and Amodei,  so clearly demonstrated their allegiance to the top 0.5% of American income earners as in their wholehearted support of the Ryan Path To Poverty Budget.

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Filed under 2012 election, Amodei, education, Heck, Medicaid, nevada education