A federal budget plan under consideration in Congress calls for deep spending cuts in social programs and “would be a disaster for families and for our children,” Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., told a gathering of early childhood professionals on Friday.
“It calls for $4.7 trillion in nondefense spending cuts over the next 10 years and no increase in revenue,” Udall said.
The 2016 budget proposal was approved 52-46 last month by the Republican-led Senate. All Democrats voted against it, and all but two Republicans voted in favor.
Senate leaders say their proposal would balance the federal budget in 10 years without raising taxes and repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
House Republicans passed a similar measure last month that would cut $5.5 trillion in spending over a decade.
Udall said $660 billion of cuts in the Senate proposal would affect programs that directly benefit New Mexico families, such as Medicare, Medicaid and early childhood health, education and nutrition programs.
The cuts “would be piled on the backs of working families, the elderly and children,” Udall told participants in an early childhood development and health symposium in Albuquerque. The event was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico.
The proposed budget would eliminate the earned income tax credit, which benefits low-income families, and cut funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which enrolls about 10,000 New Mexico children, he said.
“Healthy kids are an investment in our future,” Udall told a receptive audience that applauded several times during the speech. “We need to be doing more. The budget that is making its way through Congress would do less, not more.”
Wealthy Americans would benefit from tax breaks offered by the budget, he said.
A budget “is about choices and it’s about priorities,” Udall said. “Children should be our first priority. They should not be taking a back seat to billionaires.”
Udall said after the event that he is optimistic that Congress will consider compromises this summer or fall that would restore cuts to some programs.
“I hope Congress will come together for our children,” he said. “We have reached a point in this country where inequality is so high that anybody running for president has to talk about it. That is a very, very good thing.”