Skip to main content

The Republican budget: An assault on the middle class

By Steve Israel
updated 1:09 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rep. Steve Israel argues that the latest GOP budget hurts middle-class Americans
  • Israel: Families will be paying more in taxes while corporations get huge tax cuts
  • Senior citizens, he says, will pay more as GOP budget reopens prescription doughnut hole

Editor's note: U.S. Rep. Steve Israel is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and represents New York's 3rd Congressional District. You can follow him on Twitter @IsraelDCCC. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- Strong countries need a thriving middle class, but in America today, the people who have to work for a living are getting squeezed. Republicans in Congress are poised to vote this week on a plan to make it even worse, selling out the middle class to enrich the already rich.

With their latest budget, Republicans are stacking the deck for special interests -- and whether you're a student, parent, commuter or senior citizen, Republicans will force you to pick up the costs so that special interests get their tax breaks.

In Washington, too many people speak in vague hyperbole. So let's look at the numbers in the GOP budget and see exactly how its priorities would affect real Americans. Many economists predict that this budget will lead to a loss of more than 3 million jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Rep. Steve Israel
Rep. Steve Israel

The Republicans' budget makes life harder at every turn for the average person trying to succeed in America.

If you are a student at Florida State University -- in Republican Rep. Steve Southerland's district in Tallahassee -- the GOP budget would make you pay interest on student loans while you're sitting in class, raising a total of $40 billion for the Treasury. Not by coincidence, the biggest and wealthiest oil companies get $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

If you are a middle-class commuter in my congressional district on Long Island and you're trying to drive from Melville on the Long Island Expressway to get to your job in New York City, this budget gives you more brake lights and potholes. It strips $52 billion out of road repair and infrastructure improvements. On the other hand, if you're a corporation in New York, the Republican budget keeps tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas.

If you are a middle-class senior citizen living in Rep. Rodney Davis' district near Springfield, Illinois, your costs increase 11% right away. You'll have to pay another $1,200 for your prescription drugs after this budget reopens the prescription drug doughnut hole. Future generations of seniors get an even worse deal -- they would get a Medicare voucher or have to pay up to 56% more just to get the benefits Medicare offers today.

'Inside Politics': Ryan's budget
Ryan: The left is exhausted
Ryan: Budget is 'campaign brochure'

And finally, if you are middle-class parents with children in Rep. Mike Coffman's district in Aurora, Colorado, this budget increases your taxes $2,000, according to the Office of Management and Budget. But if you are making more than $1 million in anywhere else in America, you get a $200,000 tax cut, says Citizens for Tax Justice.

In short, Republicans are turning their backs on the middle class.

Democrats have the backs of the middle class. House Democrats have launched a sweeping national project -- "Battleground: Middle Class" -- and we are already communicating with voters in 76 districts around the country to tell them how the GOP budget would cost them more in every aspect of their lives, whether it's higher taxes, worse roads, costlier college educations or an end to the Medicare guarantee.

The American people want their representatives in Washington to focus on strengthening the economy, making sure everyone has a shot at getting a better job and can count on a secure retirement -- which is exactly what Democrats have proposed.

For middle-class voters, the 2014 midterms will come down to one question: Who's got our backs? The debate over our budget answers that question.

We will fight from now until November to protect middle-class families from these backward priorities that threaten their financial security, cost us jobs and hold our economy back.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 12:17 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 6:31 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT