President Bush’s budget for Fiscal Year 2008 would once again severely cut programs that directly affect the quality of life for many women and their families. The following report assesses the President’s spending plan compared to the levels provided in P.L. 110-5, theRevised Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2007, adjusted for inflation, recently passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate and signed by the President. The President’s cuts in funding for education, health care, labor, housing, and economic assistance programs reflect misplaced priorities and will have a negative impact on families across the nation. This March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, Democrats are as committed as ever to taking the country in a new direction.
Health Insurance, Health Care, and Nutrition
The Bush budget may lead to increased health care costs and premiums for the American people. Health care costs, including health insurance premiums, have skyrocketed since President Bush took office. More than 46 million Americans are uninsured, including over 17 million women, and an additional 16 million Americans have health coverage that does not adequately protect them from catastrophic health care expenses. Low-income and young women, as well as women of color, are even more likely to be uninsured. Instead of offering a real solution to this crisis, the President’s budget proposal would jeopardize existing employer-based coverage and push people into the individual insurance market where insurers can discriminate based on pre-existing conditions and drop coverage when people get sick. By capping the tax deduction for health insurance and driving healthier individuals out of comprehensive health insurance plans into health savings accounts (HSAs), the President’s plan would raise costs for millions of Americans while failing to address the problems of the uninsured and under-insured.
The Bush budget would undermine the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Although the number of children without health care coverage increased from 2004 to 2005 to 11.2 percent, the President’s budget puts existing State Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage in jeopardy. His budget proposes adding only one-third of the funding necessary to maintain current coverage levels in the program, putting millions of low-income children and others at risk of losing their health insurance. Moreover, his plan would leave millions of low-income children who are eligible for the program without coverage.
The President proposes nearly $300 billion in cuts over ten years to Medicare and Medicaid. These cuts would further exacerbate the country’s insurance crisis because millions of American seniors and families depend upon these programs for their health care.
- Medicare. Approximately 43 million senior citizens and people with disabilities depend on Medicare. The President proposes $76 billion in legislative and regulatory cuts over five years, and $252 billion in legislative cuts over 10 years.
- The budget proposes to increase the number of Medicare beneficiaries subject to higher premiums in Parts B and D. By preventing the income threshold for the higher premiums from increasing to reflect inflation, more middle class beneficiaries will be affected by the higher premium, and one of the greatest strengths of the Medicare program – its universality – will erode.
- Moreover, the President’s budget favors privately managed plans over traditional Medicare providers. The budget proposes to reduce payment updates to hospitals and other health care providers participating in the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program, but maintains overpayments to HMOs and other managed care plans even though MedPAC, an independent advisory panel, has recommended their elimination.
- Medicaid. More than 50 million low-income people – approximately one out of six Americans, including nearly 19 million women between ages 19 and 64 – depend on Medicaid for their health care. Just last year, the Republican-controlled Congress enacted $6.9 billion in Medicaid cuts over five years. Now the President is proposing additional cuts. The budget, through legislative proposals and regulatory changes, proposes $25 billion in Medicaid cuts over five years.
The Bush budget for food and nutrition programs would limit availability and access to federal nutrition programs for low-income families. Approximately 37 million Americans live in poverty, 5.4 million more than when President Bush first took office. Nearly 13 million of these poor are children. Nevertheless, the budget proposes eliminating categorical eligibility for food stamp recipients who receive TANF-funded work support services. Approximately 329,000 individuals would be affected by 2009 and nearly $1.4 billion would be cut from federal nutrition programs. The budget also proposes the elimination of the Commodity Supplemental Food Program for low-income children and senior citizens, which would eliminate modest monthly food packages for almost half a million individuals. In addition, the budget proposes funding cuts for the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program’s nutrition and education services for low-income mothers and children.
The President also proposes funding reductions for substance abuse and mental health programs. From 2003-2004, 8 percent of American adults experienced at least one major depressive episode, and women were more likely than men to experience an episode. From 2004-2005, at least 14 percent of adult women suffered from some form of serious physiological distress. From 2002-2003, 5.9 percent of adult women abused or depended on alcohol or illicit drugs. Access to treatment is vital to improving, and saving, the lives of Americans facing mental illness and addiction. Moreover, the availability of prevention programs is vital to the health and safety of all Americans. Nevertheless, the President proposes cutting funding by $221 million to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which supports mental health programs and alcohol and other drug abuse prevention and treatment services throughout the country.
The budget once again proposes cuts to health promotion programs. While investing in preventive health programs is both common sense and good medicine, the President proposes to cut overall funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and again proposes eliminating the Preventive Health Block Grants. The President’s budget would also eliminate the Universal Newborn Screening program, even though the national infant mortality rate is 6.5 percent.
The President’s budget would cut funding for medical research that advances women’s health. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are the leading source of basic biomedical research funding and have played an essential role in improving health and extending lives for women, children, and all Americans. Nevertheless, President Bush has proposed cutting funding NIH by $743 million. Further, although the President’s budget maintains current funding levels at $4 million for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Women’s Health, the FDA has expressed its intention to cut $1.2 million in funding to the office. The Office of Women’s Health provides vital funding for research that establishes appropriate drug doses and treatments for women and promotes women’s health initiatives within the FDA.
The Bush budget would decrease funding for children’s hospitals. Free-standing children’s hospitals depend upon the federal government to support the training of health professionals. Unfortunately, the President has proposed to cut the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (GME) program by $193 million, or 64 percent.
The Bush Administration’s budget proposal also cuts funding to veteran health care programs. America has a special obligation to support and honor our 24.5 million veterans – 1.7 million of whom are women – who have risked their lives to defend our nation and its interests. The President’s budget, however, inadequately provides for their health care needs. The budget nearly doubles the prescription drug co-payment for approximately two million middle income veterans who suffer from non-service related disabilities, and it continues a ban on new middle-income veterans enrolling for care, a policy that has caused as many as one million veterans to be turned away from VA hospitals and clinics. Further, the budget provides only minimal funds for enhancements in specialized VA health care programs, including mental health/substance abuse treatment, rehabilitative care for critically wounded service members, and readjustment counseling.
The proposal also underestimates the needs of the new generation of veterans arriving home from Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 200,000 women are on active duty in the military, and women make up 15 percent of the armed forces. While the President’s request of $752 million for health care services for returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans represents an increase over current spending levels, it is projected that this allocation will fall short of real demand by 50,000 patients.
The President’s budget proposal fails to adequately fund critical programs that provide educational opportunities for our nation’s school children. Increases in discretionary funding for some programs would be more than offset by cuts in funding for, or the elimination of, other vital education programs. The President’s budget would cut Department of Education discretionary funding by $2.3 billion, or 3.9 percent. Instead of adequately investing in education, the President is once again asking students, parents, and teachers to do more with less.
The Bush budget would under-fund No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Title I. Though the President trumpets NCLB as a way to close the academic achievement gaps, his budget once again fails to provide adequate resources to fund the program, even as states and local school districts struggle to meet the program’s requirements. While the budget increases NCLB funding by $738 million above baseline, for a total of $24.6 billion, which reflects a $968 million increase for state grants under Title I, these new funds are targeted toward new requirements for high schools. The Bush budget does little to help schools meet the goals that have already been established. Even worse, where the budget gives with one hand, it takes away with the other by proposing $397 million in overall budget cuts for K-12 education programs.
The Bush budget fails to make college more affordable. In spite of the dramatically rising costs of college, the President’s budget does not address growing concerns about college affordability. The President’s budget only contains enough discretionary funds to maintain the current maximum Pell Grant of $4,050. While the President proposes an increase in the maximum Pell Grants from $4,050 to $4,600 in Fiscal Year 2008 and to $5,400 by Fiscal Year 2012, he aims to pay for part of the increases with other cuts and program eliminations that would hurt students. The President proposes to eliminate Perkins Loans, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Leveraging Education Assistance Partnerships programs. The Bush budget would negatively impact the more than 50 percent of undergraduate women who receive some form of federal aid.
The President rejects bipartisan support for career and technical education. Last year, Congress passed and the President signed a bill to reauthorize and strengthen career and technical education. Despite overwhelming bipartisan support for these programs, the President’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget proposes a $696 million reduction in funding. As a result, most states would see their funding reduced by almost half, and five million secondary students and three million post-secondary students participating in career and technical education programs, as well as more than two million students enrolled in Tech Prep programs, could see their courses reduced or eliminated.
The budget shortchanges after-school programs. 21st Century Learning Centers provide enrichment and a safe and supervised environment for students after the school day ends. Nevertheless, the President flat-funds this program at $981 million, which is $19 million less than what is needed to provide the same level of services in 2008 as will be provided in 2007.
The Bush budget would provide inadequate funding for Head Start. The Head Start program prepares many low-income children to enter kindergarten ready to learn by providing child development, education, health, nutrition and other services. The Bush budget would cut Head Start by $207 million, for a total of $6.79 billion. The program currently serves only about one-half of the children eligible for the pre-school program, and fewer than five percent of eligible Early Head Start children. By failing to provide a cost-of-living adjustment, the President’s budget will result in cuts in hours, transportation, and educational instruction that will reduce the number of children receiving services and threaten the quality of the program.
The President would eliminate Even Start. Even Start is a family-focused program, which offers early childhood education, adult education, parenting education, and interactive literacy activities for parents and children.
The budget would cut programs that promote safe and drug-free schools. Safe and drug-free school programs have provided millions of children with a safe environment that allows them to learn. Despite successes of these programs, the President proposes cuts of $253 million, or 72 percent, for safe and drug-free schools state grants. The budget would leave only $100 million for these vital programs.
The Bush budget would terminate other key education programs. The President proposes to eliminate 44 discretionary education programs, including Leveraging Education Assistance Partnership Grants (LEAP), education technology state grants, school counseling, mentoring, parent information and resource centers, physical education, school leadership, Tech Prep State grants, and the School Dropout Prevention Program.
The Bush budget would cut funding for domestic violence programs. The Office on Violence Against Women (VAW) in the Department of Justice provides national leadership on issues relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking by providing grants to help victims with the protection and services they need. The budget request cuts $12.2 million, or nine percent, and would eliminate all VAW formula grant programs, including the stop grant program and the sexual assault hotline grant program.
The budget would gut funding for community policing. The President’s budget would cut $509 million, or 94 percent, from the COPS program, which helps state and local law enforcement agencies hire police officers, enhance crime fighting technology, support crime prevention initiatives, and combat methamphetamine use and distribution. This is part of a $1.4 billion, or 54 percent, cut in funding for all state and local law enforcement programs in the Department of Justice.
The budget proposes to eliminate key funding for programs that prevent juvenile delinquency, crime, and child abuse. The Bush budget proposes elimination of the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants program, which supports state and local efforts to prevent juvenile delinquency and crime. The Bush budget would also reduce funding for child abuse enforcement grants.
Employment and Training Programs
The President’s budget would severely cut funding for employment and training programs. At a time when women constitute nearly 50 percent of the workforce and are struggling to support their families in the face of layoffs, competitiveness, wage stagnation, wage inequality, and the increasing cost of living, the President’s budget would place economic security further out of reach by cutting $1 billion, or 19 percent, from fiscal year 2007 levels for employment and job training programs. This cut includes funding decreases for the adult employment and training activities grant program, dislocated worker employment and training activities grant program, youth activities program, Job Corps, and the Community Service Employment Program for Older Americans. In various ways, these programs help states and localities provide extensive job training and placement for workers and students and offer necessary services to employers.
The Bush budget would decrease funding for programs that help unemployed women find jobs. Although the national unemployment rate rose to 4.6 percent in January, with one in every five of these workers remaining unemployed for more than six months, and 4 percent of adult women are unemployed, the President proposes to cut $40.7 million from the Employment Service State grants program.
The budget would also drastically cut funding for programs that help people with disabilities. The budget eliminates funding for the Work Incentive Grant program, which makes grants to help operate one-stop career centers to assist job seekers with disabilities. One-stop centers provide enhanced career development and labor market information services to workers and employers. Further, the budget reduces funding by $10.3 million, or 35.6 percent, below baseline for the Office of Disability Employment Policy, which works to eliminate employment barriers to people with disabilities.
The Bush administration’s budget would also slash funding needed to combat child-labor worldwide. The budget would cut anti-child labor program funding by $58.4 million, or 80 percent, below the fiscal year 2007 level. The President proposes to fund these programs at just $14 million.
Small Businesses and Economic Assistance
The Bush budget cuts small business financing for women entrepreneurs. The Bush budget once again proposes the elimination of funding for the Small Business Association’s microloan and microloan technical assistance programs, which were funded at $22 million and $13 million, respectively, in 2007. The microloan program, which overwhelmingly serves minorities and women, is vital to businesswomen, who own nearly 6.5 million businesses in the United States. Many of these are small businesses that serve their local communities and provide good-paying, stable jobs.
The Bush budget request would leave many low-income families vulnerable to high home energy costs. While home heating costs have increased by 59 percent since 2001, President Bush’s budget requests have failed to keep pace — this year is no different. While the budget requests $1.78 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), this is $420 million less than is needed to maintain LIHEAP funding at the P.L. 110-5 level, adjusted for inflation.
NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, budget cuts are calculated relative to P.L. 110-5, theRevised Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2007, adjusted for inflation.