Congressional Candidate Paul Hodes Responds to Bush NH Visit

Paul Hodes for Congress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Contact:Matt McGrath

Hodes Calls on Bass to Reject Bush Budget

Budget mean-spirited,doesn’t cut deficit

CONCORD – In response to President Bush’s New Hampshirevisit pushing his 2007 budget proposal, Democratic Congressional candidate Paul Hodes called on Charlie Bass to oppose steep program cuts vital for NH seniors today on a conference call with reporters.

“This morning, Congressman Charlie Bass called the budget ‘a starting point for important Congressional consideration and debate.’ I hope he realizes, then, that we have a very long way to go before the finish. Furthermore, I hope Charlie took the opportunity to share the stage with President Bush to reject his mean-spirited and counter-productive budget priorities. Cutting Medicare andMedicaid funding, on top of major cuts to programs that help seniors eat and heat their homes makes no sense,” Hodes said.

Hodes noted that on top of cuts to Medicare of $36 billion, this budget eliminates the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides meals for more than 7,700 low-income seniors every month. The Administration’s budget also makes severe cuts to programs designed to help seniors heat their homes, and to find affordable housing.

“A budget is a very clear way to make your priorities clear,”Hodes, a Concord Democrat, continued. “What this budget makes clear is how out-of-touch Washington is with the needs of ordinary Americans. To them, continued tax cuts for the super rich are more important than the needs of our seniors and our most vulnerable citizens. It is mean-spirited.”

According to the Campaign for Budget and Policy Priorities, this budget would increase the deficit over both the short run and the long run. The significant reductions to a broad array of domestic programs are more than offset by tax cuts for the wealthy. The tax cuts would favor the most well-off ,while the program cuts would primarily affect low-and middle-income Americans.

Noting that the elderly are among the hardest hit, Hodes said. “Considering the costs of the botched Medicare Plan D program, on top of astronomical heating costs, our seniors must look at this budget and wonder just what they ever did to George Bush and his allies inCongress.”

The following is an overview of the cuts contained in yesterday’s budget with NewHampshire-specific numbers where available:

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which helps to feed more than 7,700 low-income seniors in New Hampshire, and over 420,000 nationwide, would be eliminated. Section 202 housing for low-income elderly would be cut by 26 percent. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/6/06]

PresidentBush’s proposal to create individual investment accounts in Social Security lives on in his fiscal 2007 budget. [CQ, 2/6/06] The budget calls for $13.6 billion in savings from Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program over five years by including further changes to the drug reimbursement formula and curbing an accounting practice by some states that raises the federal share of Medicaid costs. [CQ, 2/6/06]

New Hampshire ’s 190,271 Medicare Beneficiaries Could Face Increased Cost Burdens And Decreased Quality Of Care. Bush’s budget imposes new cost burdens on providers and hospitals that could damage the quality and availability of health care for New Hampshire ’s 190,271 Medicare beneficiaries. Just last year, Bush said that Medicare should be spared any cuts, saying that it would be wrong to change the program at a time when the administration was preparing to implement a new prescription drug benefit. Although the specific impact on New Hampshire is not yet available, the Medicare cuts come out of hospice ($550 million), ambulances ($290 million), hospitals ($9.7 billion), skilled nursing facilities ($5.1 billion), home health care agencies ($3.5 billion), and inpatient rehabilitation facilities ($1.6 billion). Medicare Part B premiums, which are paid by seniors for access to physician care, are expected to increase as well for seniors in certain income brackets at a cost of $1.9 billion. [New York Times, 2/4/06;President Bush’s Budget, FY2007; Kaiser State Health Facts, as of 1/13/06]

New Health Care Fees for Military Retirees. To stem rising health care costs, the Pentagon plans to impose increased health care fees that primarily will affect retires under the age of 65. The $39 billion planned for military health programs reflects the new fees, which were imposed to stem rising health care costs, official said. [CQ, 2/6/06]

Discretionary spending under Bush’s budget would be cut by 6.4 percent, to $54.4 billion. The budget proposes eliminating 42 education programs totaling about $3.5 billion, she said. Among the programs Bush would eliminate are vocational education grants to states and three programs intended to help low-income children prepare for college. [CQ, 2/6/06] Deep Cuts In Programs To Help Make Low Income Homes More Energy Efficient. A program that provides grants to improve energy efficiency in low-income households would get a 32 percent reduction compared to fiscal 2006, to $164.2million in fiscal 2007. [CQ, 2/6/06]

Airline passengers would pay higher ticket fees to help offset spending growth at the Department of Homeland Security under the Bush administration’s fiscal 2007 budget request. [CQ, 2/6/06]

State and local homeland security grants that benefit police, firefighters and other first-responders would be slashed by 13percent to $2.6 billion, according to the Homeland Security Department briefing material. Overall funding for terrorism preparedness would fall $612 million to $3.4 billion, according to the budget summary. [CQ, 2/6/06]

Bush Budget Forcing Veterans To Pay More For Services And Medication—Forcing 200,000 Veterans Out Of The System. Nearly $800 million of the VA increase can be attributed to a proposed new $250 enrollment fee and an increase in drug co-payments to $15 per prescription, from $8, for higher-income, less-disabled veterans. The new fees would dissuade 200,000 veterans from even enrolling in the VA health care system, VA officials estimated, freeing up department resources to focus on the neediest of veterans. But lawmakers, urged on by veterans’ advocacy groups, have opposed forcing any veterans to pay more out of their pocket for care. [CQ, 2/6/06]

Veterans’ advocacy groups produce their own budget proposal each year, and Joe Violante , legislative director for the Disabled AmericanVeterans’, said the VA budget appears to be about $1.2 billion below what the groups believe is necessary for medical care. [CQ, 2/6/06]