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Republicans In The US House Push Through Drastic Cuts That Will Hurt Working People

Today, the US House voted, mostly along party lines to approve the Republican budget proposal.  The proposal would stick it to federal workers who will be forced to pay more for retirement benefits, eliminate cost of living adjustments for retirees, increase the calculation of retirement benefits from three years to five years, eliminate Social Security stipends for federal workers who retire prior to age 62, and takes an axe to Medicare and Medicaid.

“The budget does not achieve one penny of deficit reduction by closing tax loopholes that benefit billionaires and corporations. Instead, it drains resources from programs the American people need and strongly support, particularly those helping the most vulnerable Americans,” wrote the House Democratic Budget Committee Members. “The Republican budget burdens American taxpayers with a $1.6 billion bill to begin constructing a costly and ineffective border wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) was a resounding “No” on this budget proposal.

“A budget is a moral document that lays out our priorities for America. This year’s House Republican Budget once again shows a dangerous and destructive vision of our nation’s future that would leave seniors and working families to fall further and further behind,” said Shea-Porter.

“Today, House Republicans voted to end the Medicare guarantee and instead give seniors vouchers to fend for themselves. They voted to slash Medicaid, which supports about two-thirds of nursing home residents. And their budget calls for changes to the tax code that would further benefit the wealthiest and the biggest corporations at the expense of working families and small businesses. Like the President’s budget, this budget would use these tax cuts for the wealthy as an excuse to slash spending on education, infrastructure, medical research, veterans benefits, and other investments in our future.”

“Today, House Republicans showed us their road map to exacerbate inequality in America. I will keep fighting to keep this budget’s dangerous vision from becoming our reality,” Shea-Porter concluded.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster also voted against the budget resolution.

“The extreme Republican budget that I opposed today sets all the wrong priorities for hardworking families in New Hampshire and across our country,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “This budget gives massive tax cuts to the ultra-rich while slashing critical education funding, infrastructure investment, consumer protection, and other vital needs.  The resolution also massively cuts Medicaid and Medicare and repeals the Affordable Care Act, which has been so critical in responding to the opioid epidemic. I will continue to oppose these misguided priorities as I fight for middle class families.”

The Hill magazine explained the proposed cuts to federal retirement in their article.

“A 6 percentage point increase in employee contributions to the Federal Employees Retirement System, phased in over six years; the elimination of cost of living adjustments for FERS employees and a 0.5 percent reduction in COLAs for Civil Service Retirement System enrollees; elimination of the FERS supplement for employees who retire before Social Security kicks in at age 62; and basing the value of retirement benefits on the highest five years of employees’ earnings instead of the current highest three years.”

This means that federal workers are going to be forced to an addition 6% towards the federal retirement program. That is a pay cut for workers even after Trump announced a measly federal pay raise of 1.4%.

“In the years after the Great Recession, no other group sacrificed more for the American public than federal employees,” said J. David Cox, American Federation of Government Employees National President. “They have given up more than $182 billion in wages and benefits – totaling $91,000 per career civil servant.”

If these provisions are incorporated into the final budget, federal workers will see less money in their paychecks.

“This sets the stage for the federal community to pay for tax reform,” Jessica Klement, legislative director of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association told the Hill. “You’re paying for middle class tax cuts on the backs of middle class federal employees and retirees. It goes against the fundamental premise of this tax reform package.”

News also broke yesterday that federal workers are going to see a 6.1% increase to their healthcare premiums next year.

“These rate hikes mean less take-home pay for current and retired federal workers and another year of difficult decisions by many families on how to pay their bills. The premium hikes announced today by the federal government far eclipse any increase in wages or Social Security payments next year,” said Cox.

The pain for working people does not end there.  Republicans hacked up Medicare and Medicaid, slashing $1.5 trillion dollars from the programs over the next 10 years.  The plan would cut more than $1 trillion from Medicaid, the single largest insurance provider in the country, and $500 million from Medicare, to give more tax breaks to the wealthy.

“Cuts of more than $1 trillion to Medicaid will force states to make deep cuts in the number of people who receive benefits, or the amount of health care provided,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.  “Over 70 million beneficiaries rely on Medicaid, including almost 6 million seniors who depend on it for their nursing home and home care services.”

“This budget raises the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and turns guaranteed benefits into a system of inadequate vouchers. It is a stab in the back to the millions who contribute to Medicare throughout their lives, expecting it to be there when they retire.”

“Knowing that President Trump is colluding with House Speaker Ryan to pass this budget after he promised not to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is beyond appalling. Alliance members will send a clear message to members of the House: Hands off my Medicare and Medicaid,” Fiesta concluded.

If this budget does go through as written it will increase our national deficit and slash programs working people rely on.

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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