Much like families around the country, states need to balance their budgets, too. If they spend too much on one program, they can’t afford another. And if they don’t take in enough revenue, they don’t have the money to spend. That’s what states are currently struggling with: Since the economic downturn, states have been raking in less cash and have had to explore options to balance their budget—which oftentimes has meant slashing programs that serve the people who most need the help.
The tax extenders bill (also known as the jobs bill), H.R. 4213, has been stalled in Congress for weeks. The Senate has now attempted to pass a bill to address the unemployment and state budget crisis three times to no avail. Each step along the way, the Senate has hit a wall of opposition that is supposedly based on concerns about increasing the federal deficit. To appease these concerns, the Senate cut a critical provision to provide additional assistance to states for Medicaid by one-third – but the bill still failed to win the 60 votes necessary to pass.
For the past few weeks, Congress has worked on a jobs bill that includes a number of provisions to help Americans get back on their feet during this recession. Unfortunately, last week negotiators struggled to find the necessary votes to pass the jobs bill in the House. At the last minute, negotiators removed two key health care provisions that would have offered help to millions of low-income Americans and to jobless. The House approved the stripped down bill, 215-204.
One of the biggest myths surrounding the current health care legislation is the notion that these reforms will add to our national deficit. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The latest figures from the non-partisan referee of Congress, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), show that the Senate health care bill will reduce our national deficit over time. According to the Director of the CBO,
Health reform has never been easy. That lesson has come up throughout this year's legislative process - as if decades of failed reforms had not yet made that clear.
Health reform, however, is an imperative for our nation's families. Without reform, health costs will continue to grow much faster than wages. Without reform, many millions of hard-working people and their families will join the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured.