BY CONGRESSWOMAN MAZIE HIRONO – In Hawaii, we recognize that we are part of a community. We know that we are all in this together and whatever hurts the most vulnerable among us, hurts everyone. We strive to treat each other with aloha and know it is our duty to care for (malama) each other and the islands we call home. These are the values that drive my work in Congress.
Unfortunately, it’s sad to say, this week the House passed a budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that does not represent the priorities of Hawaii’s people and communities.
I could not support this budget because at a time when we need to be creating jobs, cutting our deficit and making real investments to get our economy moving, Mr. Ryan’s budget misses on so many counts. Of the many, here are just ten reasons why families across Hawaii will be hurt by the Ryan budget. This budget:
Ends Medicare as we know it. For workers age 55 and younger, this budget would convert their Medicare into a voucher; they’d be left to find health care on the private market with no guarantee of the consumer protections, choice, or level of service that’s available today. For today’s seniors on Medicare, this budget would increase premiums based on income, and would end free preventative and wellness visits. That’s why this budget is opposed by AARP, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Families USA, Medicare Rights Center, AFL-CIO, and many other national organizations.
Repeals the Affordable Care Act. The help seniors are now receiving to afford prescription drugs would be repealed, young people would not be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26, and insurance companies would be allowed to discriminate against people with a pre-existing condition, under Mr. Ryan’s plan.
Attacks women’s health care. In addition to repealing key pieces for women in the Affordable Care Act, like free preventative care and prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against women, the Ryan budget would also slash existing family planning services that more than 20,000 Hawaii women use.
Eliminates Brand USA, our nation’s travel promotion arm. Brand USA, which Hawaii’s own Roy Yamaguchi helps direct as a board member, is geared to help our country market itself globally. It’s short-sighted and just plain bad business to cut marketing at a time when we should be doing everything we can to boost tourism to our country. It’s one of our strongest exports.
Rolls back efforts to make college affordable. Interest rates for Hawaii’s 29,000 students receiving subsidized student loans would double. The Ryan budget would also stop 920 low-income Hawaii students from receiving a Pell grant for college and 16,000 more would see their Pell grant reduced; rolls back Income-Based Repayment to keep student debt low; and slashes new grants for the Community College and Career Training (C3T) grant program. UH Community Colleges just won $24.6 million for job training from the program in 2011.
Slashes education programs for Hawaii’s students. By 2014, the budget would cut service for nearly 30,000 low-income students and nearly 5,000 students with disabilities in Hawaii public schools, and would put 250 Hawaii teachers and school staff out of a job. It would cut more than 800 Hawaii students from Head Start and eliminate 240 jobs that help get our keiki ready for school.
Cuts nearly 4.1 million jobs nationwide through 2014. The Economic Policy Institute found that the Ryan budget would cut spending so quickly and reduce demand in the economy so fast, 1.3 million jobs would be lost in 2013 with an additional 2.8 million jobs disappearing in 2014.
Gives millionaires and billionaires $265,000 each in addition to the $129,000 they would receive from the Bush tax cuts. The wealthiest among us will receive an average $394,000 yearly tax cut – all while asking seniors, students, families, and communities to make big sacrifices.
Cuts transportation investments in roads, bridges, rail lines, buses, and airports. Next year, investments in transportation spending would be cut by nearly 50 percent, which could delay or stop projects already underway and cost thousands of jobs.
Protects tax breaks and boosts incentives for corporations shipping American jobs overseas. At a time when we should be doing everything we can to boost job creation here at home, we shouldn’t be encouraging companies to outsource jobs.
As you can see, this budget does not protect our kupuna or our keiki. It doesn’t put people back to work. It hurts our middle class families yet gives the wealthiest among us a close to $400,000 tax break. This budget is a misguided effort and missed opportunity to really put in place a plan that creates jobs and moves our country forward. Our people deserve better.
That’s why I’ll continue to fight for a balanced approach when it comes to our budget. One that protects our families, gets people back to work, and invests in our future.
Thanks for reading. As always, please stay in touch: visit my website www.hirono.house.gov to send an email, call my District Office at (808) 541-1986 or send me a tweet at @maziehirono. The direct (free) numbers to call my office from the neighbor islands are:
Hawaii Island — 935-3756
Kauai & Niihau — 245-1951
Lanai — 565-7199
Maui — 242-1818
Molokai — 552-0160
Mazie K. Hirono
Member of Congress
2nd District of Hawaii