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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.

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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.

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