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CURRENT ISSUE:  February 19, 2007VOL. 45, NO. 4Oakland, CA

Proposed budget will make poverty
much worse, says Catholic Charities

President Bush’s proposed $2.9 trillion budget not only misses the mark on reducing poverty, but will actually serve to exacerbate the problems facing millions of our nation’s poor families, according to Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA.

The proposed budget contains drastic cuts and changes to a range of programs that address the health and well-being of low-income families and individuals.

Father Synder said his agencies are alarmed that just two weeks after the president’s State of the Union address, in which he acknowledged the nation’s health care crisis, he recommended cutting more than $100 billion from Medicaid, Medicare, and other critical health care programs over five years.

“The President’s new budget hurts those living in poverty at a time when we should be doing even more to help the most vulnerable among us,” Father Synder said.

According to Catholic Charities USA, some of the most alarming cuts are in the following areas:

• Health Care. The Administration proposes deep cuts to health care programs-such as Medicaid, Medicare, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and substance abuse and mental health programs-that will impact some of the most vulnerable Americans, including seniors, low-income children, and the disabled.

• Hunger. The Administration proposes to eliminate Food Stamp eligibility for approximately 300,000 people in working families with children. These families have low-incomes, but they are not receiving cash assistance.
The budget also proposes to eliminate funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides funding for the elderly and nutritionally vulnerable pregnant women and their children.

• Housing. The Administration proposes deep cuts to services and housing programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These include cuts to the Housing for the Elderly Section 202 Program by nearly a quarter and reducing funding for HUD’s Housing for Persons with Disabilities 811 Program by half.

• Economic Security. The Administration’s proposal eliminates funding for the Community Services Block Grant, which funds a range of services to address the needs of low-income individuals. The budget further proposes to significantly cut the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income persons meet their home heating costs.

The budget proposal also calls for reducing the federal commitment to abused and neglected children in the nation’s foster care system.

Catholic Charities USA recently launched its Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America, a new multi-year initiative to cut poverty in half by 2020, by urging Congress and the Administration to give a much higher priority to the needs of the 37 million Americans living in poverty in policy and budget decisions on issues such as health care, housing, nutrition, and economic security.

(Shelley Borysiewicz is on the staff of Catholic Charities USA.)


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