Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Congress Poised to Clip Poor, Aid Big Biz

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Congress Poised to Clip Poor, Aid Big Biz

Article excerpt

The poor and the lower middle class are about to be sideswiped by bills that have the votes to pass in the Congress. The measures may be vetoed or compromised, but substantial suffering for the disadvantaged seems almost inevitable.

Cutting expenditures to balance the budget is proferred as the reason for proposed cuts. But one wonders whether the intention of the new Republican majority is to cripple and even collapse the social programs they are regularly defunding.

Food stamps, on which 14 million children rely, would take a major hit. Thirty-five billion dollars would be subtracted from the program over the next seven years. The meager 78 cents per meal in 1995 will decrease to 66 cents in the year 2002.

The remedial programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 will be cut by $1.2 billion or 17 percent in 1996. This means, according to the National Education Association, that 1.1 million children will be denied remedial programs. The Pell grants for higher education, scheduled to be slashed by $450 million, will eliminate as many as 365,000 college students from that indispensable program.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is going to have its budget slashed by one-third. This will require the closing down of 50 percent of the agency in its 104 regional offices. OSHA would then be unable to make all the safety inspections it should.

A bill in Congress would weaken all strict federal regulations on nursing homes in place since 1987.

Further radical changes are proposed for Medicaid. State grants will receive about 30 percent less to cover the 36 million for whom Medicaid is essential.

In addition, under the balanced budget proposal poor families will see their earned income tax credits eliminated. The tax credit of $500 for each child will not help families with two children who pay less than $1,000 a year in federal taxes. …

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