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Monday, 23 March, 2015

The Congressional Budget Process Gets Underway

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Budget committees convened this past week to begin consideration and markup of each Chamber’s respective fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget proposals.

As many political pundits have said, and we are in complete agreement with, “budgets are moral documents.” Thereby, this document must reflect our country’s commitment to its people. Unfortunately, both the House and Senate’s proposals fail to live up to this sacred idea.

This year, both chamber’s FY16 budget framework includes deep cuts to social welfare programs providing much-needed assistance and support to children, senior citizens, people with disabilities, working families and some of our country’s most at-risk populations. Perhaps most concerning are potential cuts to vital programs like the Social Security program, Medicaid, Medicare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 

In its current form, the House’s FY16 Budget proposal would cut $125 billion from SNAP over the next ten years – at a time when 80 percent of recipients are the young, elderly, people with disabilities and/or working families. Even more troubling, the House seeks to slash Medicaid funding to the tune of $913 billion over the course of the next decade, and also eliminate access to affordable housing for hundreds of thousands of American families.

The Senate’s companion bill calls for eerily similar and draconian cuts. The Senate Budget Committee has proposed $900 billion in Medicaid cuts by transforming the program’s funding model into “block grants,” while at the same time cutting $137 billion from SNAP through fiscal year 2026.

The supports and services garnered through these vital programs serve as the economic backbone for countless children and adults with disabilities, giving them the opportunity to live independent, productive lives in the community. 

Understanding the dire consequences such proposals would have on those we represent, National Disability Institute (NDI) stands in stern opposition to policies undercutting critically important programs like Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and SNAP.

In that spirit, we are calling on individuals with disabilities, their family, friends and disability advocates to call, write, email and/or talk with their Congressional representatives. To help in this effort, please consider using the draft text/script below to engage with your federally elected officials:

(Introduction: greeting, your name, etc.), I am (mode of communication) today to respectfully request you not support any budget proposal this year that includes draconian cuts to programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicaid, Medicare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 

As a (person with a disability, family member of a PWD, friend of a PWD, professional in the disability field) these programs allow (me, my family member with a disability, people with disabilities) the ability to access the essential supports and services (I, my family, we, they) need(s) to pursue the American Dream. 

(INSERT HERE: Specific example on how the service or support is used in your life would be helpful, but not necessary.)

I urge you to keep me, the nearly 58 million Americans with disabilities and their families in mind when making decisions that affect programs and support services the disability community has historically relied on to make ends meet. 

Thank you so much for your commitment to public service, and I look forward to your response.

 

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