Passing a budget in Washington these days is uglier than making sausage. The next step (now underway), when Congressional appropriators actually decide where to spend those budgeted dollars, may be even worse.
As a reminder, the 2016 budget deal passed last month was far from perfect; however, it did:
· Prevent a 19% cut in Social Security Disability Insurance benefits that would have occurred in late 2016
· Mitigate a 52% Medicare Part B premium increase for 30% of Medicare beneficiaries
· Alleviate an increase in the Part B deductible for all beneficiaries, lowering it from a projected $223 to $167
The budget deal also provided for a roughly $33 billion increase in domestic programs. Many, like Older Americans Act programs, have been devastated by the sequester so loosening that budget noose should have been good news.
However, Congressional conservatives have very different ideas than Democrats of where those extra budget dollars should go. In a classic “guns vs. butter” battle, GOP appropriators propose less for domestic programs, like the Older Americans Act, and $8 billion more for the nondefense war account beyond the increase already requested by the President. According to Congressional Quarterly:
“Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro, ranking member of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, on Tuesday slammed the new, post-budget-deal allocation for the spending bill she helps oversee, which typically accounts for roughly one-third of all nondefense discretionary spending.
DeLauro said the revised discretionary allocation for Labor-HHS-Education is $5.2 billion above the fiscal 2015 enacted level (PL 113-235) of $156.76 billion, or roughly $161.69 billion. She said the bill should receive an increase of closer to $10 billion above the enacted level. The budget accord provided a roughly $33 billion increase to domestic programs above the sequester level, when a roughly $8 billion increase to the nondefense war account beyond the president’s request is included.
“I’m opposed to the allocation. The recent allocation is well below the percentage that Labor-H should have, given that Labor-H is 32 percent of the nondefense discretionary dollars,” DeLauro said.”
The Older Americans Act is the backbone of the nation’s home and community supports system, helping older adults age with independence and dignity by providing them with much-needed in-home support, meals, transportation, caregiver assistance and ombudsman programs to help protect residents in nursing homes.
The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, chaired by NCPSSM, is mobilizing Americans to call their members of Congress and ask them to do more, not less, for the growing number of older Americans by protecting aging services and increasing funding for the Older Americans Act and Elder Justice programs. Our seniors are counting on them.