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Senate Rejects the Destructive House Budget
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill
WASHINGTON - May 26 - The U.S. Senate wisely rejected on Wednesday a destructive House-passed budget for fiscal year 2012, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which would have slashed $4.3 trillion from critical social programs, while rewarding $4.2 trillion in tax cuts to the very wealthy. A key criticism of the legislation was its proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program -- an idea much criticized by the Democrats and which has the potential to play a major role in the 2012 elections. The measure failed by a vote of 40 to 57, with five Republicans joining all Democrats.
The Ryan budget, along with two other radical -- but defeated -- budget proposals offered by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), represent conservative lawmakers' continuing war on women and their families. Scores of educational, health, job training, nutrition, child care, early childhood education, medical, retirement security and other human investment programs are at stake -- all in the name of enriching right-wing politicians' corporate backers.
The battle is not over even though these regressive budget bills have been stopped in the Senate. Right-wing lawmakers will keep trying to cut programs that disproportionately employ and serve women. Another opportunity for such regressive and hurtful reductions in federal spending occurs when Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling -- sometime before Aug. 2.
Women's rights advocates must get the message across to members of their congressional delegation: We will oppose lawmakers in the 2012 elections who support slashing programs critical to the well-being of women and their families. Deep reductions in federal spending will halt our economic recovery and escalate already high unemployment rates affecting women workers. A focus on reducing the federal deficit at the expense of economic investment to grow employment is a foolish endeavor.