May 05 2015
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today voted against the GOP budget resolution, which the Senate passed by a vote of 51-48.
Feinstein released the following statement:
“In my view, this is the worst budget resolution that I have seen in my 22 years in the Senate. It represents a major step backwards for the country, and I believe we need to go back to the drawing board.
Budget resolutions are as much about priorities as they are about numbers, and I believe this budget resolution sets all the wrong priorities.
At a time when millions of families are still struggling to recover from the recession, this budget would raise their taxes while cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, who have only gotten wealthier in recent years.
The budget calls for the elimination of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which would raise taxes by an average of $900 on 13 million working families. Yet, at the same time, the budget would eliminate the Estate Tax, which is only paid by 5,400 families each year who inherit estates worth more than $10 million.
Let me repeat that: this budget calls for raising taxes on 13 million low-income families in order to pay for tax cuts for the 5,400 wealthiest families, representing the richest 0.2 percent of our country.
Prioritizing the rich over struggling families is at the heart of what is wrong with this budget.
In addition, this budget calls for dramatic funding cuts for the very federal programs that these working families rely on most. Nationwide, the cuts required by this budget would:
- Prevent 35,000 low-income children from enrolling in Head Start, an early childhood education program;
- Cut federal funding for public schools that serve more than 1.9 million low-income students;
- Increase the cost of college for more than 8 million low-income students through cuts to Pell grants;
- Prevent 2.2 million Americans from accessing job training services; and
- Eliminate health coverage through Medicaid for 14 million low-income Americans.
In my view, these cuts are draconian and wholly unnecessary. I also believe that these cuts would only further exacerbate income inequality and economic hopelessness, the very forces that have been fueling unrest throughout the country.
The events in Baltimore that have been broadcast across the nation in recent weeks are not only a response to years of police brutality, but also the result of whole neighborhoods being left behind economically.
As a former big-city mayor, I remember a time when there was robust federal and state support for cities to redevelop depressed neighborhoods and provide educational and employment opportunities for their citizens.
That priority no longer exists, certainly not in the austere funding levels of this budget. Instead, we have seen a total abandonment of our cities over the past three decades.
When I was mayor of San Francisco, the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) was the primary source of federal funding to help state and local governments undertake housing, economic development and neighborhood revitalization projects. During my time at City Hall, CDBG funds peaked at $3.7 billion, which would be the equivalent of $10.6 billion in inflation-adjusted 2014 dollars. In 2014, Congress provided only $3.023 billion for CDBG, just 28 percent of that peak inflation-adjusted amount.
For my city, when CDBG was at its prime, it meant we had around $28 million per year to use for police, fire departments and economic development projects. Under the funding levels in this GOP budget, San Francisco would be slated to receive only around $16 million a year, just 20 percent of what I had when adjusting for inflation.
If you care about our cities and the problems facing them, these are the dollars that can really make a difference. They work; I’ve seen it. Yet, they would simply not be there under this budget.
At the same time, many states, including California, have cut funding for local redevelopment projects, further straining local government funding for economic development and neighborhood revitalization.
Now, I recognize Congress can’t solve all of the country’s problems, and pouring money into cities won’t cure all of their ills.
But I believe the central role of the federal government should be to expand opportunities for the people who need it most, not those who have already succeeded in life.
This budget doesn’t do that. Not only does this budget not help working families, it would actually make their situation even worse.
This budget would take away the healthcare of the most vulnerable, make it even harder for Americans to find a job, deny our nation’s youth the opportunity to learn and raise taxes on those who can least afford it.
The Republican priorities reflected in this budget are morally wrong and terrible for our country’s future. It’s time to develop a budget that helps all Americans, not just the wealthy few.”