The good and the bad of the Ryan-Murray Budget Agreement
December 13, 2013
Update: Since this post was initially made the United States House of Representatives has passed the budget agreement by a vote of 332-94. The measure now goes to the United States Senate for a vote.
The following are remarks made by LIFTT public relations & government affair coordinator Jed Barton at a press availability sponsored by the Montana Organizing Project on December 12 2012:
“The Ryan-Murray budget deal that Congress will be considering is a piece of good news for many eastern Montanans with disabilities. To know that needed benefits such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are not (at least for the time being) going to be cut will provide peace of mind for many. The $32 billion in non-defense spending restored will help prevent severe cuts to programs such as Para-Transit, Vocational Rehabilitation, Special Education and Housing that are vital for people with disabilities as they seek to live full independent lives as contributing citizens.
We would also point out that the restoration of department of defense spending means that many vital services will continue to be available for those disabled in the service of our nation as well as the children and spouses of our current service people who have a disability.
Of course the news is not all good: We do express grave concern about the failure of this deal to extend long term unemployment benefits a time where the unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities is at 12.3% nearly twice of what it is for Americans without disabilities (according to Nov 2013 DOL statistics).
It is also distressing that the deal does not include any significant increase in government revenue. The tax code is littered with loopholes and breaks that have no beneficial effect on the vast majority of Americans or their business interests but instead serve to protect and increase the wealth of a few corporations and individuals. These should be examined and eliminated the funds generated go towards not only towards deficit reduction but also to preserve and strengthen vital programs.
I would add however that from the point of view the disability community securing the fiscal future is only part of our concern. Congress must also see to it the programs are administered in such a way as to fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act of a society where people with disabilities are not only “cared for” but are able to live their lives as fully empowered members of their communities. I do not have time to elaborate here but afterward can discuss specific proposals that the disability community has endorsed with anyone who is interested.
By passing this agreement Congress can take an important step down the road of returning to some semblance of regular business as opposed to continuing the pattern of government by manufactured crisis. But it is only one step it is our hope that as they will continue down this path and that as they do so all parties and branches of government will be guided by the desire to do good for all Americans and not just a privileged and connected few.”
You can see Billings Gazette coverage of the event which also included speakers from the Billings Education Association and Indian Peoples Action here
KTVQ Coverage here
KULR8 Coverage here