The President’s 2008 proposed budget, announced today, has the wrong priorities for Oregon and America. It would worsen the problem of stagnant living standards and would increase disparities in health care, housing, child care, and income. Oregon is beginning to chart a path to address these challenges; the President’s proposal would mean a step in the wrong direction.
At a time when 116,000 Oregon children under 19 lack health insurance, 169,000 Oregon families can’t always afford enough food, and 230,000 Oregon families pay more than half of their income for rent, action is required to help working families meet basic needs and give their children a decent start in life.
Yet the President’s budget weakens vital services like health care to help pay for the President’s tax cuts that provide windfall gains to the very wealthy, while saddling future generations with large debts. For example, the President’s budget fails to adequately fund the children’s health insurance program, placing health coverage for many low-income children at risk and undermining Oregon’s efforts to cover all uninsured children. In addition, the President proposes roughly $26 billion in cuts to Medicaid over five years, further jeopardizing Oregon’s and other states’ efforts to provide health care to the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and working families.
The President’s budget also cuts $123 million from the 2006 level in federal funding that comes to Oregon for key priorities such as the environment, law enforcement, transportation, health care (other than Medicaid), and child care. State lawmakers will be hard pressed to absorb these cuts.
Oregon’s congressional delegation must take a different approach and help create a budget that reflects Oregon’s true values. Congress should invest in critical priorities like children’s health insurance, food stamps for people who struggle to put food on the table, child care for working parents, and affordable housing. By making the right choices, Congress can craft a budget that meets Oregon’s priorities while charting a more fiscally responsible course than the President has laid out today.