PFAW Urges Schwarzenegger to Oppose President’s Budget

Bush-DeLay-Frist Budget Will Cost Californians Nearly $3 Billion Over Next Five Years

Los Angeles, CA – People For the American Way today asked Gov. Schwarzenegger to “immediately and vigorously” oppose the President’s and Congressional leadership budget plans in advance of tomorrow’s vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

PFAW Western Regional Director Jeff Berman cited new data showing that the drastic cuts to federal programs in the budget would cost California nearly $3 billion and told the Governor that California “simply cannot afford a federal budget that will burden California with literally billions more in unbearable expenses.”

Berman said data released today by the Emergency Coalition for American Priorities (ECAP) show that the cuts to government programs would cost California $3 billion over the next five years and would dramatically affect California’s most vulnerable citizens.

“The Bush-DeLay-Frist planned tax cuts of $70 billion will cost us health care coverage for 3,476,373 Californians; Head Start for 966,810 children; housing for 48,873 families; 154,044 public safety officers; and 912 elementary schools, to say nothing of the billions more in benefits budget cuts to seniors, children, and the poor,” said Berman. “Our children and our communities simply cannot handle these losses.”

In addition to this potential $3 billion burden, California must shoulder the cost of the special election, prescription benefits to those on Medicare, and a planned additional $70 billion in massive tax cuts.

Berman also reminded the Governor that just two days ago the federal government informed the states they would have to pay billions of dollars to the federal government next year to pay for the costs of the 2003 Medicare Law that provides prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries. The Congressional Budget Office estimates states will owe $6 billion in the current fiscal year and $124 billion between 2006-2015.

“You were elected to office in large part because our state has suffered several years of devastating budget hits,” Berman told Schwarzenegger. “To make matters worse, on Monday the federal government informed California that it intends to seek billions of dollars in compensation for Medicaid and Medicare charges. And to top it all off, we are weeks away from a special election that will cost our state an estimated $80 million more.”

He continued, “Pushing $70 billion in tax cuts while slashing at least $50 billion from programs benefiting working American families is the height of fiscal irresponsibility. Advancing this radical right wing agenda in the guise of relief for victims of Katrina and Rita is, frankly, disgraceful.

“We therefore ask you to oppose the Bush and Congressional Republican budget plans immediately and vigorously. The vote is likely to be so close that the Republicans in California’s Congressional delegation will have the final say on whether this devastating budget passes. They need to hear from you now that this budget is bad for California.”

The Emergency Coalition for America’s Priorities (ECAP), which issued the attached report about the effects of Bush’s budget on California, is a stop-gap national campaign formed by national and local organizations to convince Congress to stop the Republican-backed plan that would drastically cut programs that primarily benefit the poor and middle class in order to pay for tax cuts that benefit only the wealthiest among us.

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