White House says GOP budget would hurt Michigan

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The White House says a Republican budget proposal would cost hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents benefits from government programs — including ending the Affordable Care Act, cutting food stamps, college Pell grants and eliminating Head Start for more than 1,200 children. in the state

The Obama administration is trying to highlight the proposed GOP budget’s impact on people — especially poor and middle-class Americans — and met with regional reporters to highlight the state specific costs of the budget cuts.

“Budgets are the times where you have to put numbers next to your priorities and you have to make choices,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday. He argued the president’s budget focuses on middle class Americans and the Republican budget is focused on the wealthy. The GOP budget believes “by showering benefits on those at the top of the income scale, those benefits will eventually trickle down on everyone else.”

Republican leaders have said they are trying to rein in federal spending and balance the budget over a decade without increasing taxes.

The White House also criticized the GOP budget for including $1 trillion cuts over a 10-year-period that Republicans haven’t disclosed how they would make.

Republicans also plan to approve eliminating the estate tax on inheritances worth $11 million or more — a tax cut that would cost $300 billion over 10 years, Earnest said.

“This is a tax cut not just directed to the top 1 percent” of wealthiest Americans, Earnest said, “it is directed solely at the top 0.1 percent of the country.”

Republicans have argued that the “death tax” hurts small businesses and farmers and is a second tax on income that has already been taxed.

The GOP budget proposal sets a template, but is not binding. Congress and the White House will have to negotiate over on a new plan to fund the government starting Oct. 1. President Barack Obama has said he will not agree to higher defense spending, unless Congress also agrees to higher domestic spending.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the plan takes a “strong step forward in addressing the nation’s fiscal and economic challenges.... We know that a balanced budget will mean more opportunity and a healthier economy for hard-working American families. It will mean a more secure nation where we are able to provide our brave men and women in uniform the resources they need to complete their missions and defend our freedoms. By demanding Washington live within its means, we are forcing government to be more efficient, effective and accountable, providing our local communities the freedom and flexibility to improve the delivery of vital services and assistance to those in need, and saving and strengthening vital programs for America’s seniors.”

The White House said the GOP budget would eliminate health care coverage for 341,000 people in Michigan who now have coverage under the Affordable Care Act and raise health care costs for 205,000 senior citizens in Michigan because of higher Medicare Part D drug costs under the GOP plan. Republicans, including Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph, have said the GOP Congress would pass a law to replace Obamacare and give consumers more flexibility to buy the insurance they choose.

The GOP budget would freeze Pell grants, rather than let than rise with inflation as they are currently — a move that would impact 269,000 students in Michigan.

Michigan would get $11.5 million less funding for students with disabilities — a 2.9 percent cut, and 71,600 fewer Michigan residents would be able to get job training and employment services. The state would also receive $33.2 million less for affordable housing, resulting in 3,200 fewer families receiving vouchers.

Higher education costs have traditionally risen faster than the rate of inflation. The GOP would also eliminate Manufacturing Extension Partnerships; Earnest noted that the manufacturing sector has added back 900,000 jobs in the last five years.

“That would be undermined by Republican cuts in the budget,” Earnest said.

Michigan would receive $32.5 million less for disadvantaged schools, which could affect as many as 39,000 students. The White House says 1,240 fewer children would have access to early education Head Start programs.

The budget would cut food stamps in Michigan by $4.1 billion over a five-year period. Nearly 1.9 million people in Michigan receive some government food assistance.

The White House said the GOP budget would delay construction and renovation projects at three national parks: Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw National Historical Park and Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore.

The White House budget also had some cuts for Michigan.

The proposal renewed efforts to kill the A-10 plane that supports hundreds of jobs at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County. It also proposed cutting $50 million from a Great Lakes cleanup fund.

Like last year, the administration wants to cut the Great Lakes environmental fund — by $50 million to $250 million — for efforts to clean up pollution and restore fish and wildlife habitats.

Earnest defended those cuts, saying the Obama budget had to “make some tough choices.” He said there are some things the administration would like to fund “but given our constrained resources” the administration had to make choices.