President’s Budget Cuts Emergency Response, Health, Heating Programs While Boosting Defense Spending to Record Levels

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For his final annual budget proposal, President Bush stuck to his pattern of proposing harmful cuts to critical domestic programs while extending tax cuts for the wealthy and boosting military spending. Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) highlighted several key programs that affect Massachusetts in the Fiscal Year 2009 budget that are slated for large cuts.

Rep. Markey said, "Though Americans are facing high housing prices, high energy prices, high health care prices and an uncertain economic future, the president's budget proposal makes it clear that his priorities remain unchanged: he is still intent on giving the wealthy an extended tax break while slashing funding for programs to help the poor, sick, and disadvantaged. President Bush's budget priorities are wildly off the mark."

Key Provisions in President Bush's proposed FY2009 Federal Budget expected to have significant impact on Massachusetts include:

Cutting health care funding: The Bush administration's budget calls for more than half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, programs that provide health coverage for seniors and the poor.

Slashing home heating assistance, eliminating weatherization program: In a blow to low-income families facing record energy bills, the Bush administration would cut by $280 million the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a block grant program that helps the poor pay heating and air-conditioning bills. In addition, the president's budget completely eliminates the Weatherization Assistance program, which enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.

Eliminating terrorism response program: The president's budget zeros out funding for the Department of Homeland Security's Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS), the only federal program that helps first responders, medical personnel, emergency management workers and local stakeholders coordinate their responses in the case of a terrorist attack, public health crisis or natural disaster. Massachusetts has received MMRS funding in the past, and Rep. Markey has led the effort to save this program in past years.

Gutting local law enforcement funding: President Bush zeros out funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants program for hiring new officers and technology upgrades.  The COPS grant program is best known for adding over 100,000 new police officers during the 1990's including more than 3,000 in Massachusetts. Another disappointing cut in the president's budget comes from reducing Violence Against Women budget funding by $105 million.  This is part of the president's proposed grant consolidation plan aimed at cutting nearly over $1.5 billion in Department of Justice and local law enforcement assistance funding in programs ranging from DNA testing to victims assistance to police hiring.    

Under-funding biomedical research: The president's budget flat-funds National Institutes of Health (NIH) programs without even an increase to account for the rate of inflation. Rep. Markey has repeatedly fought to increase the NIH budget..

Nuclear Weapons and Nonproliferation: The president's budget carries forward misplaced priorities on nuclear weapons and nuclear nonproliferation.  While the Department of Energy's international nuclear nonproliferation programs are slashed by more than $400 million, the president has again requested funding for his plan to build thousands of new nuclear weapons for the U.S. arsenal even though last year the Congress refused any funds.

"The president's budget is bad for Massachusetts and bad for America. Thankfully, while the president is willing to ignore the critical needs of our country, the Democratic Congress will not. I look forward to working with my colleagues on a budget that better reflects America's values and priorities and takes America in a New Direction," concluded Rep. Markey.

February 4, 2008

CONTACT: Jessica Schafer, 202.225.2836