Arc major events this week: cuts in spending levels target disability programs

8 Feb

From this week’s “Capital Insider” email from The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy. The US Federal government is preparing the next year’s budget and cuts are on the way. The fewer people who contact their representatives, the deeper the cuts will be for their communities.

FY 2011 Appropriations – House Budget Committee announces spending levels; Targets for disability programs are more than 15% below current levels.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced the overall budget allocations for the Appropriations Committee to use to set spending levels for the remainder of the FY 2011. Currently the federal government is operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) which largely extended FY 2010 spending until March 4, 2011. Under the plan, non-security programs would be reduced by an average of 15.4% below the current funding levels. Using this amount, the House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) announced the specific levels for each of the 12 Appropriations Subcommittees. The Labor, Health Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee will need to produce a bill that is 12.7% below funding for the remainder of the year. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee will have to cut funding by 26.1% to meet the target. This does not mean that the subcommittees will need to cut all programs by this amount, but that the total funding for all programs within their jurisdiction cannot be above this level. The Subcommittees will decide how much funding to cut from each program in the coming weeks.

Budget – New bill introduced to radically cut federal spending across all programs, including entitlements

Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced S. 245, The Commitment to American Prosperity (CAP) Act, which would cap all federal spending at a set level. This would include all entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and others) and all discretionary spending (education, housing, employment and others). The cap would be tied to a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is the total market value of all goods and services produced by our economy. If the spending cap is exceeded, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would be authorized to make automatic spending cuts across all federal programs. A two-thirds vote in Congress would be needed to overturn any cuts. The amount of the cuts would be in proportion to how fast each program is growing. Unlike previous laws to control spending (Gramm Rudman Hollings, Pay As You Go) there are no protections for low income entitlement programs such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. As a result, the impact of exceeding the cap would mean that the biggest cuts would come from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These programs make up a significant proportion of federal spending and are growing faster than many other programs due to the aging of the population and rising per-person health care costs.

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