Below are comments on the status of the federal budget as of November 1, 2017.
There are many important concerns for seniors in the current budget process. In addition to the comments herewith, there is also the impact of the proposed tax reform bills currently being considered. Comments on this are shown in a separate article in this month’s newsletter – CLICK HERE
This whole area is very fluid, and changes from day to day. But it is important to understand what is currently being considered. This will gives important insight to the types of changes that will impact the country; and for our purposes, the potential impact on the aging population.
We would urge our readers to be informed about budget and tax issues being considered by Congress and the President. To the extent you are concerned, it is important to contact you Senators and Congresspersons. They need to know your concerns.
There is the potential for major negative impact on the health and well-being of the senior population.
The FY18 Budget passed the Senate a week ago and the House last week so it is now the budget resolution governing Congress. Importantly though – passage of the FY18 budget does not enact any spending cuts into law. The Budget Resolution sets policy priorities for Congress and is supposed to set top line budget numbers for the 12 appropriations bills. It still takes Congress acting to pass these 12 appropriations bills to set the government funding levels for FY18, and all 12 appropriations bills require 60 votes in the Senate.
What this budget resolution does do is set up reconciliation procedures for the Senate to pass their massive tax cut with a 50 vote threshold.
The budget resolution is vague and does not include specific program cuts, however the budget calls for:
- $4 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years
– $1.3 trillion cut to Medicaid
– $1.2 trillion in unspecified mandatory spending cuts
– $653 billion cut to SNAP food stamps, SSI, Childcare programs, and others
– $473 billion cut to Medicare
– $200 billion cut to education programs including higher education
- Dramatically lowers non-defense discretionary spending caps which by 2027 would mean a 27% cut to non-defense discretionary spending from 2010 levels
- Includes fast track procedures to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska
Targets include child nutrition programs, Supplemental Security Income for the elderly and disabled, the refundable portions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (which helps families pay for higher education), child care, foster care, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), among others. It could also cut Medicaid and Medicare including mental health services with psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers.
In May, Congress passed the FY17 Omnibus which set reasonable spending levels for many agencies and programs. We’re currently operating essentially at those levels through December 8th on a Continuing Resolution. Before we can negotiate spending levels for various programs in FY18, we must negotiate top-line budget numbers for defense and non-defense discretionary spending and agree to lift the extremely low Budget Control Act spending caps.