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Lois F.
Democrat FL 22

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  • The Republican Budget

    by Representative Lois Frankel

    Posted on 2013-03-13

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    FRANKEL of Florida. Thank you, Congresswoman Maloney. I'm pleased to be with you. I came up here as a new Member in a bipartisan spirit, and I really wanted to be standing here today embracing Mr. Ryan's plan; but I have to tell you, I'm worried about it. And I want to tell you why I'm worried about it. I'm worried about it for Sabrina, for Lucy, for Ruth, Lola, and Barbara.

    I'm going to tell you about them. Sabrina is a small business owner. She has a little catering company. She called my office because she's looking for a way to get a small business loan so she can stay in business and improve it. It's hard today getting loans from the banks.

    Lucy is a bright-eyed young student in a community college. She is thrilled to have a student loan, a Federal student loan.

    Lola is a teacher who has a daughter with cerebral palsy, and she depends on services from the government to help her with her daughter.

    And Ruth, Ruth is 91 years old. She used to be a ball of a fire, but she recently hurt herself. She just got out of the hospital, and she can't move around. She can hardly get out of bed. She depends on Meals on Wheels to feed her so she has food every day.

    And then there is Barbara who's outlived most of her relatives. She's in a nursing home in my hometown, and she has Alzheimer's.

    I know you ask me why I'm worried about them. You know why I'm worried about them, because they are the victims. They will be the victims of this proposed budget. And what's going to happen? Will Sabrina lose her business? Will Lucy have to drop out of school? Will Ruth go hungry? Will Lola have to give up her work so she can stay home with her daughter? Tell me something, who is going to take care of Barbara? Who's going to take care of her? Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. No one. No one. She is going to have to quit her job and stay home and take care of Barbara.

    Ms. FRANKEL of Florida. Barbara is in no condition to take care of anybody. Listen, I think we all know, the American people know that we have to get our fiscal house in order. There is a deficit problem for us, but the American people want us to solve it in a responsible manner because I also know this: we still have a job problem out there. We have slow economic recovery. And now as we are just turning the corner, all of a sudden we have this plan, this bill, this proposal, this budget that independent analysts tell us is going to throw, what, 2 million people out of work, the majority of them women. It will really crush these people like Lucy, Ruth, and Lola and Barbara and Sabrina. We can tell each other hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of stories.

    Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Thank you for putting a human face on what it's meaning for people who are coming to your office for help. But also what has to be part of this equation is that the economy is still very fragile, and you can't cut your way to prosperity. These deep cuts could put the economy in a tailspin. Chairman Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, has testified that we need a balanced approach, that we shouldn't slash so severely. Many economists say that the American economy is doing better than Europe because we are not cutting as deeply as Europe is, so giving the economy a chance to recover.

    So to go in with these draconian cuts, not only does it hurt people, such as with the stories you're telling us, but it could hurt the recovery, the overall economy that for the past 35 months has been growing private sector jobs and digging ourselves out of that deep recession, so it could possibly throw us back into it. You've raised an important point, and I yield back to you.

    Ms. FRANKEL of Florida. I ask another question: What is the logic in taking little children out of Head Start programs when we know that the path to middle class, the path to be able to take care of your family, to take care of yourself, to be a tax-paying citizen is education? So I ask you, Congresswoman, why would we pass a budget that would take 27,000--I think even more, I think the last sequester bill would take 27,000 children out of child care, Head Start, and this new budget doubles down. Why would we do that? Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Well, I think you pointed out that this budget is not only draconian and unfair; it is filled with contradictions. Why in the world would you let these tax breaks continue for big oil companies that are making a profit, and we're subsidizing some of them to the tune of 40 percent, yet you're going to take the future of our young kids and throw them off. It is a total, total contradiction; and it's completely wrong.

    I want to point out the biggest contradiction in this budget. It repeals the Affordable Care Act, but keeps the law's budget savings and uses it to balance their budget. So they say in the budget they're going to repeal the Affordable Care Act. How are they going to repeal it? It passed the Congress; it is the law of this country. It was upheld by the Supreme Court. We had an election where this was a central point of debate; and, guess what, President Obama won the election, and he ran on the Affordable Care Act. So they say that they're going to repeal it. They don't have the votes to repeal it. And even if they did, he'd veto it. There's no way they can repeal it, so it is a complete--really a hoax. It's a hoax.

    Then they claim to protect Medicare while ending Medicare as we know it for future seniors and our children and our grandchildren. And the biggest hoax, they sit there and say they are going to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and then they take the savings from the Affordable Care Act, the $718 billion that was put there from the providers, and they use that to balance [[Page H1389]] their budget. So the numbers do not add up.

    Ms. FRANKEL of Florida. Let me ask you this: Does the repeal of the Affordable Care Act come with a repeal of people getting ill? I'm trying to figure out the logic here because if you repeal the Affordable Care Act, if you take Medicare and now you turn it into a voucher program or what they call ``premium support,'' which means literally thousands of dollars more coming out of the seniors' pockets to take care of themselves, you're not repealing illness. All you're doing with this Ryan budget is shifting the burden back to the middle class.

    You hit it on the head when you said let's keep giving those tax breaks to the big oil companies, the people who want to move their companies offshore, to big corporations with huge profits paying almost nothing in taxes. Here's how we're going to clean up our fiscal house: we're going to tell people when they're oldest and they're sickest, you're going to have to pay more money, or just don't get sick.

    Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. The gentlelady is correct. They're shifting the burden onto the middle class, the elderly, and the poor. Again, President Obama's budget contains $1.3 trillion in spending, and in that budget is $1.1 trillion in tax breaks. So where are the priorities of this country? Close the tax breaks, keep the food on the table, or close the tax breaks and reduce the deficit.

    I think they're not sincere about wanting to reduce the deficit and the debt because if they were, they would take those tax loopholes and close them. Some are important such as the deduction for a family's home. That allows many middle class and moderate middle class Americans to own their own home. They are able to deduct that.

    {time} 1840 But there are all these other deductions that make no sense. Why in the world are we giving a subsidy to companies that move jobs overseas? It's crazy. If anything, the subsidy should be for companies in America making it in America, creating jobs in America, and paying their taxes, their Social Security, and their Medicare in America.

    So this whole budget is an exercise in contradictions and it's an exercise in, really, lack of good judgment or values, and I hope that we are able to defeat it.

    I hope that the Democratic plan will be the one that is finally the one that passes. This is just the same old same old from the last 2 years: slash the safety net and protect tax breaks. The Ryan approach just isn't a balanced or, I would say, fair or valued approach.

    Ms. FRANKEL of Florida. Thank you, Representative. I want to thank you for letting me join you here today.

    I just want to say this. I know we've been standing up here and we've been critical of this Ryan budget and, respectfully, I think we're just saying it like it is. But I want to just say this, and I know you feel the same way. I hope that we can vet it.

    You know, we're venting our feelings here today. And our constituents need to know that we're going to stay strong for them and the women of this country, the Lucys, the Sabrinas, the Barbaras of this country, and of course the men that we love, too. But I hope that we can find a way, that we can find a middle ground, we can find a reasoned budget that gets people back to work, that we secure our families and we get our fiscal house in order in a reasonable amount of time.

    Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. I want to thank you, Congresswoman, and you raised some important points.

    And one that was not raised, that is the illnesses that we do not have cures for in this country. And one of the things that America's always led the world in is scientific research, yet this budget cuts that research. It cuts the National Institutes of Health that could come up with the cures for the diseases that she mentioned.

    America is a place of innovation and medical advancements, and Congress should be focused on keeping that status, that we don't want to lose our leadership in innovation.

    To give one example, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women. One in seven women will come down with breast cancer, and it is one of the leading causes of death among women of all races in America. In 2009, over 210,000 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer, and over 40,000 women died from the disease.

    Over the past 5 years, the National Institutes of Health spent more than $3 billion on breast cancer research, which dwarfs any amount we see in the private sector or nonprofit sector. And yet, in the Ryan budget, the NIH would be cut and slashed by billions and billions of dollars, yet these dollars are the hope for saving lives. They're the hope for finding cures. And we know that health research has paid off.

    Another important area is Alzheimer's. The number of women and men that contract Alzheimer's is huge and growing, and this cut will be cutting the research that we have in Alzheimer's and other lifesaving efforts to prevent Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other diseases.

    So we've been making a lot of progress in health research and innovative research, and all of that research is really at risk under the Ryan Republican budget.

    I am very pleased that one of my colleagues from the great State of Texas, Sheila Jackson Lee, who is a strong advocate for women, children, and families, has joined us. Thank you so much for being here tonight.

    I yield the gentlelady as much time as she may consume.

    Ms. JACKSON LEE. Let me thank my friend from New York, Congresswoman Maloney, for her leadership on economic issues particularly impacting women, for the persistence of her introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment, long overdue, that we all join in to ensure the rights of women. And let me thank the gentlemen that are on the floor that joined us this evening.

    I want to follow up, as I listened to the discussion that you just had, I met with Dr. Brinkley in the hallway, who is one of the leading researchers in biomolecular research from Baylor University, in my Congressional region, if you will. I consider representation because it is such a massive institution. And he brought with him two of his researchers. In fact, the headline on one of my papers was the standstill work of one of our important researchers because of the sequester, and certainly because of this budget. All of that points to women who are most vulnerable as relates to the needs of research in chronic illnesses.

    Let me cite for my colleagues about this question of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security what is drastically cut and reordered under the Ryan Republican budget. I'm really saddened that misinformation comes that the Medicare's predominance, in terms of its help, goes to those who are fat cats.

    Let me share some numbers with you. Many of these are women. We do know that women live longer, and so the needs that they have for Medicare and Social Security may be extended.

    And may I take something out of our vocabulary, though it is in the dictionary. Medicare and Social Security are earned. I don't know where we got the word ``entitlement,'' because entitlement suggests you're entitled with no basis of responsibility. But they earned this. Women earned this.

    And women started before the fight that we had, Congresswoman, for pay equity over the last decade or two. They were making the lower wages, and so their Social Security input had to be much lower as they continued to work years in.

    But let me just share with you on the Medicare beneficiaries: Annual income less than $22,500: 50 percent of the Medicare beneficiaries include in that number women; Chronic conditions: of those who receive Medicare, 40 percent include in that number women; Fair and poor health: 27 percent, women in that population; Cognitive mental impairment: 23 percent, women in that population; Functional limitations: 15 percent, women in that calculation.

    So, as I look at this budget, 60 percent of it is taking away health care from the poor and middle class, which would include women.

    The idea that the bill slants itself toward protecting the interests of the wealthy by not listing any deduction that you're willing to take. Now, I know if we get into a discussion about deductions, we put ourselves in that circle; but let me just say, middle class [[Page H1390]] Americans need mortgage deductions. I know, however, that that is one that is under discussion.

    But why did our friends writing this budget not list the deductions that they would be willing to put on the table? Some of us realize that mortgage deductions help young families. It helps single women. It helps women who are maintaining or getting their first house. So here we have a special emphasis.

    I'm glad my colleague mentioned breast cancer. I have introduced legislation on triple negative. It happens to have a far-reaching impact on women from all ethnic groups, whether they are Caucasian, whether they are Hispanic, or whether they are African American or Asian, but it is a deadly form of the disease, a more deadly form of the disease. And so that kind of research which many of us are arguing for is now limited because of this budget.

    The budget does not--well, let me just say this. The budget takes for its own what was accomplished with the savings in the Affordable Care Act. It takes for its own the cuts that we made, were willing to make in 2012, over a trillion in cuts and spending. And it totally ignores economists who have indicated that the austerity format that was taken in Europe was the completely wrong direction, and that, then, impacts our families more negatively.

    {time} 1850 Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Will the gentlelady yield? Ms. JACKSON LEE. I would be happy to yield.

    Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. I want to point out and make sure that our colleagues and the listening public know that the Ryan plan assumes the $85 billion in sequester cuts. So these cuts are on top of that. And according to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, the sequester could cause the U.S. economy to lose 750,000 jobs. And the Ryan plan compounds these job losses.

    The Economic Policy Institute has initial estimates that the House Republican budget would cost 2 million jobs in 2014 alone, relative to current policy. So why in the world would we want to take these steps that are going to result in job loss? I yield back to the lady.

    Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the gentlelady for that astute assessment. When I give these various points, women are disproportionately placed. Many of them are heads of households, many of them are senior women. Many are going back into the workforce because they have resource shortages, if you will. And the Ryan budget takes in all of these; i.e., the $85 billion in sequester cuts. By the way, again, I introduced legislation to eliminate the sequester provision out of the Budget Reconciliation Act. I happen to think that it is meritorious because we need to start from a fair point of view, not what I call nickel and diming, ending people's research, closing doors in the Capitol, and a number of other things that are not good for America.

    But let me just finish on this. If we're interested in R&D, as we indicated, or clean energy--slashed. Obviously, it will have an impact on the quality of life of families who are raising their children. What about nutrition assistance, the SNAP program? What an obliterating cut to the SNAP program, which is now serving 48 million people. Let me remind my colleagues that these are military persons, women who are in the military. These are young families. These are individuals who are in school. And so women are disproportionately impacted.

    And this, I think, is clearly one of the largest conflicts of reason, and that is to underfund or take away the funding for the Affordable Care Act, which has been reaffirmed by the United States Supreme Court and has been documented as having a health care savings and providing for a healthier America. And here we are taking away coverage from 27 million Americans.

    Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. They take away the good aspects of it, all the preventive and the health care. They propose to eliminate that, but then they keep the tax savings from it to balance their budget. It is a hoax. It's not realistic. It's not true. And I really appreciate your words here today on the floor.

    Ms. JACKSON LEE. They take all the good things that, might I say, the Democrats have worked on and can really be defined as balanced and fair and utilize it in a budget that is absolutely lopsided. And I thank you for having us on the floor to explain to the women of America why this budget will not be good for them, their children, or their expanded families, and that we're committed to standing against this kind of approach that is really not the American way.

    Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. I thank the gentlelady.

    In conclusion, Americans can't afford more fuzzy math and budget gimmicks. We need real solutions that help grow our economy, create jobs, support the health and economic security of our seniors, and one that will address the arbitrary sequester cuts. Chairman Ryan's budget fails to address any of these.

    Our Republican friends like to talk about making the hard choices. What they propose here would indeed make things much harder for millions of Americans, but it will also make things much easier for a fortunate few. That's their plan. The reality is that the majority's Ryan budget harms those who need help and doles out tax breaks and benefits to those who do not. So let me be as clear as I possibly can: the Ryan budget, if it were passed by the House, would risk our recovery.

    I want to thank all the participants tonight. I thank the like-minded men who came to the floor to support us and the women that have spoken out tonight on how the budget affects women, children, and their expanded families.

    I yield back the balance of my time.


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