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House Budget a Very Bad Deal for the Public
WASHINGTON - April 15 - Statement of Gary Kalman, U.S. PIRG Legislative Office Director, on the House Budget Plan, which passed the House of Representatives this afternoon by a vote of 235 to 193.
“While preying upon genuine concerns about our nation’s fiscal future, the House today passed a budget plan that is a boon for Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and other narrow special interests, and a very bad deal for the public.
“Though a proposed decrease in wasteful agriculture subsidies is one positive step, the plan makes other deep cuts to public priorities while leaving untouched hundreds of billions in harmful and inefficient spending, including subsidies for the oil and gas industry and a $100 billion dollar handout to pharmaceutical companies through Medicare.
“The proposal rolls back important aspects of the recently-passed historic Wall Street reform law. In the aftermath of a devastating financial collapse driven, in part, by the lack of oversight on large banks, this is astonishingly shortsighted.
“The budget plan repeals several measures that will contain health care costs and protect consumers from unfair practices including the creation of new state-based health insurance exchanges, repealing the ban on pre-existing condition denials, and eliminating the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a key cost containment provision.
“The proposal makes deep cuts to Pell grant program, potentially affecting the financial aid packages of more than 9 million students throughout the country.
“The proposal zeros out all funding for high-speed rail and inter-city passenger rail projects. High-speed rail and other inter-city transit is of vital importance for bringing our nation’s infrastructure into the 21st century and remaining competitive with the rest of the world.
“U.S. PIRG recognizes the need for budget cuts and responsible spending to address growing deficits and the national debt. We’ve released three reports in the last year that include more than a trillion in savings from cutting wasteful subsidies and government inefficiencies, including $600 billion in joint recommendations with the National Taxpayers Union.
“The House budget proposal fails to meet the basic test of cutting wasteful spending while protecting public priorities.”