WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama’s budget released today will put Americans back to work rebuilding critical infrastructure and ending billions of dollars in giveaways to the biggest oil companies while reducing America’s deficit by more than 50 percent in the next five years, said Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass).
“While Republicans are focused on getting President Obama fired rather than on getting Americans hired, the President has proposed a budget blueprint to create good jobs that pay well and provide economic security for the middle class,” said Rep. Markey. “This budget proposal puts on us a responsible path by having millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share in taxes and ending tax breaks for oil companies and Wall Street. Now that the President has offered this common-sense budget that invests in the American people through funding for education and training for our workers, Republicans should partner with President Obama and Democrats in Congress to get work done for the American people.”
Rep. Markey, who is the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following reaction to several key provisions of the President’s budget:
Nuclear Weapons and Defense Spending
President Obama’s budget proposes indefinitely deferring the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement project at Los Alamos. This facility would have duplicated existing capacity. At a time when the military is considering cuts to the pay and benefits of our men and women in the Armed Services, Cold War-era nuclear weapons that are no longer needed should be the first place to cut to help reduce the budget deficit.
“It makes no sense for Republicans to propose blocking the automatic defense cuts mandated by the debt deal when our nuclear arms budget is bloated with wasteful spending,” said Rep. Markey. “I have introduced H.R. 3974, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act co-sponsored by 37 of my house colleagues, to cut $100 billion a year from America’s outdated nuclear stockpile that will strengthen our long-term economic and national security. My bill is a sane approach to spending on nuclear weapons.”
Alzheimer’s Disease and Health
The President’s budget includes $80 million in new Alzheimer’s research funding. The National Institutes of Health is also setting aside an additional $50 million for the current fiscal year to identify genes that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and testing therapies in individuals at the highest risk for the disease. Taken together, this $130 million over the next two years marks a 25 percent increase to the nation's current Alzheimer’s research investment. Along with this additional funding, the administration announced the goal of preventing or treating Alzheimer's by 2025.This comes as scientists are announcing breakthroughs in their understanding of how the disease spreads through the brain.
“The doomsday that Americans fear in the 21st century isn’t being vaporized by a nuclear bomb – it’s the doomsday diagnosis of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or cancer,” said Rep. Markey. “We need to stop fighting a 20th century Cold War and start fighting to cure these devastating diseases. If we do not make real progress, we are going to pay, in today’s dollars, $600 billion a year out of Medicare and $200 billion a year in Medicaid in 2050 on Alzheimer’s alone. That’s the equivalent of the entire defense budget in today’s dollars.”
Community Service Block Grants (CSBG)
The President’s budget cuts the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program to $350 million dollars, a cut of $330 million from this year. Covering 1,065 agencies in 99 percent of U.S. counties, community action programs last year provided critical supports to more than 20 million Americans facing challenges such as extreme poverty, disability, and lack of employment. Nationally, the CSBG budget is approximately $679 million with Massachusetts receiving $16.8 million that is designated to 24 community action programs. CSBG is the federal government's only comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of vulnerable citizens and helping struggling Americans get the services they need to achieve economic security.
“With more than 15 million people in this country out of a job through no fault of their own, these programs are a hand up, not a hand-out,” said Rep. Markey. “The poor, the disabled, the elderly, and children all depend on community action programs. The best way to reduce the deficit is by reducing poverty and helping members of society find jobs, stay healthy and lead productive lives. Community action programs are helping lead our nation out of these challenging economic times, and I will fight to protect these critical programs.”
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Unfortunately, President Obama’s budget proposes cutting LIHEAP funding to $3 billion. This is $470 million below the current year’s funding. This is a $450 million increase from the President’s request last year, of $2.55 billion. In Congress, we were able to restore $920 million, funding the program at $3.47 billion. We hope to restore funding to this crucial program again in 2013. Last year, LIHEAP provided critical home energy assistance to 8.9 million American households. As many as 9.4 million households are expected to apply for aid nationwide this year. Last year, Massachusetts helped more than 200,000 households through LIHEAP funding.
“We should not continue funding the nuclear relics of the Cold War when millions of American families are having their own battle with the cold right now,” said Rep. Markey. “We need to fully fund low-income heating assistance programs for our nation’s poorest citizens, and I plan to re-introduce legislation this week to address this critical issue.”