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Next week, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a proposal that will directly impact and harm Medicare beneficiaries, Social Security recipients, and others that rely on critical safety net programs. The Goodlatte-Walsh Balanced Budget Amendment, H.J.Res.1, will come to a vote Wednesday, July 20. The bill requires Congress to pass a balanced budget every fiscal year and cap federal spending to 18% of the Gross Domestic Product.[1] Spending caps, as we have written before, threaten the Medicare and Medicaid programs and hurt beneficiaries and their families.[2] The proposed Amendment would lead to a drastic 47% spending cut in programs like Social Security and Medicaid by the year 2035. These proposed cuts would leave spending at levels not seen since 1956, before the Medicare program existed, and far below the levels recommended by the Bowles-Simpson Commission.[3],[4]

In addition to imposing draconian cuts to programs and the people who depend on those essential programs, the proposed bill would require a 2/3 majority in Congress to raise revenues, and require a 3/5 majority to vote to raise the debt limit. These provisions place the burden of our economic deficit squarely on the shoulders of older people, people with disabilities, and middle class Americans while leaving the wealthiest Americans and corporations untouched. Further, economists argue a BBA would threaten economic recovery and, according to economist Norman Ornstein, "virtual[ly] guarantee that we will have economic catastrophes that will make the Great Depression look like a picnic."[5]

While we must get our financial house in order, attempting to do so through a Balanced Budget Amendment approach that slashes Social Security, Medicare, and other programs that Americans rely on is short-sighted and would have devastating effects on our economy and jobs at a time when many are struggling. 


[1] Office of Congressman Joe Walsh, "Goodlatte-Walsh Balanced Budget Amendment Scheduled for Vote on House Floor," available at http://walsh.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=49&sectiontree=6,49&itemid=250.
[2] Center for Medicare Advocacy, "Why Medicaid Matters to People with Medicare," available at http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/2011/06/why-medicaid-matters-to-people-with-medicare/.
[3] Center for Budget Policy and Priorities, "Statement by Robert Greenstein on Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment", available at http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3442.
[4]Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Articles and Commentary, available at http://www.aei.org/article/103390.
[5] Ibid.

 

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