Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-SF), a Senior Member of the House Appropriations Committee, criticized President Bush’s budget proposal today for sacrificing priorities important to San Francisco in order to pay for an excessive tax cut for the wealthiest.
It is no coincidence that President Bush released his budget when Members of Congress are out of Washington. The Administration does not want the Congress to discuss and the American people to know that the Bush budget sacrifices important domestic priorities in order to provide excessive tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals.
How is it possible to have a projected $5.6 trillion surplus and not provide adequate funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, the environment, housing, child care, school modernization, smaller class sizes, HIV/AIDS, access to health care, police on the streets, and workplace safety?
Since taking office President Bush has renounced his campaign promise to reduce contaminants in the air we breathe, rescinded stronger standards on arsenic in our drinking water, revoked workplace safety protections, and refused to act to address the energy crisis. Just when we thought it couldn't’t get much worse, the President has released an irresponsible budget which would cut programs that are important to the people of San Francisco.
With California facing skyrocketing energy costs and blackouts, the Bush budget takes our energy policy in the wrong direction. Our best hope for reducing dependence on foreign oil and reducing pollution is through renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Bush budget cuts core renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development by nearly 50% and over 30% respectively, with far deeper cuts in specific programs. In addition, the Bush Administration fails to provide any leadership in bringing price stability to electricity markets in the West.
President Bush claims he wants to protect the environment - but his budget undermines the institutions that enforce environmental standards. The proposed budget cuts the Interior Department by $400 million, the Environmental Protection Agency by $500 million, and the Army Corps of Engineers by $600 million below the current funding level. The Bush budget also freezes funding for operating our national parks. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area -- which is growing in size and complexity -- may be forced to cut back its operations.
Despite the astronomical cost of housing in San Francisco, the President proposes to cut over $1 billion from the public housing budget. Included are cuts in low-income housing assistance, Community Development Block Grants, HOME housing block grants, and Section 8 rental assistance. The reductions in the Bush budget will surely exacerbate the acute shortage of affordable housing in San Francisco by not even providing funding for our existing housing needs, let alone the estimated thousands of housing units that our city will need in the future.
Although the number of people living with HIV/AIDS and in need of care continues to grow, the Bush budget freezes funding for the Ryan White CARE Act - a 6 percent cut from the level needed to maintain current services. In the 1980s San Francisco developed the system of community-based care that was used as a model for the CARE Act. Over the past decade, many in our community have worked hard to build this program and thousands of lives have been saved as a result of their efforts. The impact of a reduced commitment to HIV/AIDS care and treatment, along with cuts that Bush has proposed for HIV prevention through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative, would be felt in our city for years to come.
Bush also diverts $153 billion from Medicare for “reforms,” shortening the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by five years. Recent progress on health care access is also threatened by the elimination of the Community Access Program, which provided $125 million last year for hospitals and community health centers to improve access to health services for the uninsured.
After promising to leave no child behind, the President has proposed a $200 million cut to existing child care programs and the smallest increase for education programs in five years. His budget eliminates the School Renovation Program, ignoring the thousands of children who are trying to learn in classrooms that do not meet minimum health or safety standards by eliminating. As a result, nearly one thousand schools will not be renovated.
The Bush budget contains significant cuts in law enforcement and school safety programs. Overall, the budget cuts the Justice Department by almost $20 billion over 10 years. The highly successful Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which has put 85,000 more cops on the street will be cut $270 million (46%).
The Bush budget also continues his attack on working men and women. After killing worker health and safety protections earlier this year, President Bush reduces funding for training and employment services in the Labor Department by $541 million (10%) from last year’s level.
Instead of a fiscally irresponsible budget that cuts the American people’s priorities, I support a responsible budget plan which pays down the debt, invests in education and health care, and provides targeted tax cuts to working families. We must not repeat the mistakes of the 1980s which left our country with a mountain of debt.
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