Skip to main content

The Republican budget: An assault on the middle class

By Steve Israel
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
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
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2239 GMT (0639 HKT)
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2345 GMT (0745 HKT)
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2134 GMT (0534 HKT)
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2113 GMT (0513 HKT)
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1023 GMT (1823 HKT)
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 0639 GMT (1439 HKT)
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 2020 GMT (0420 HKT)
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1456 GMT (2256 HKT)
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 2253 GMT (0653 HKT)
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
ADVERTISEMENT