Congress Moves on President Obama’s Plan to Invest in America’s Priorities

Washington, DC – Congress moved closer today to approving a budget proposal consistent with President Obama’s transformational plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system, make college more accessible, and eliminate wasteful subsidies and  abusive tax shelters and loopholes.  Resolutions were introduced in both the House and Senate Budget Committees that reflect President Obama’s commitment to responsibly tackle critical public interest priorities. 

“President Obama presented Congress with a road-map for prioritizing the concerns of American families over those of Washington’s entrenched special interests,” said ConnPIRG Associate Ilicia Balaban, “As the plan works its way through the legislative process, both chambers must resist efforts to weaken the President’s vision.”  

On health care, while both resolutions would create a “reserve fund” which will allow Congress to produce fiscally-responsible healthcare reform bills later this year to reign in sky-rocketing costs, reconciliation instructions included in the House proposal provide the clearest path to enacting necessary reforms.  
“For too long, unrestrained growth in health care costs has fueled the profit margins of insurers, drug companies, and other special interests, while American families and small businesses suffered,” said USPIRG Health Care Advocate Larry McNeely, “In today’s struggling economy, our country simply can’t afford another year of higher health care costs.”

On higher education, consistent with the president’s initial proposal, the House and Senate Budget resolutions both propose a significant reinvestment in the Pell grant, the nation’s primary need-based student aid program, which could be achieved by cutting excessive subsidies from banks and lenders. 

Rich Williams, USPIRG Higher Educations Associate, said, “I applaud the House and the Senate in joining the president to reset our priorities in higher education. For too long, banks have received excessive subsidies from within the student loan programs while students and families struggle to finance a college degree. By redirecting these subsidies toward students, these policy proposals underscore just how deeply our federal government is committed toward making college more affordable.”

Finally, by assuming the enactment of loophole-closers and enforcement efforts to address offshore tax havens and shut down abusive tax shelters, the proposals also reflect the President’s promise to improve corporate responsibility and ensure fairness in the tax code.  “Not only does this budget make investments in America’s key priorities, it ensures that those investments are paid for in part by taking on some of the most powerful special interests who have carved and twisted the tax code to avoid paying their fair share,” said USPIRG Tax and Budget Reform Advocate Nicole Tichon.

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