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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
7th Congressional District of Massachusetts


8,333 subscribers

April 11, 2014

The Fiscal Year 2015 Budget

You may recall that in December Congress passed H.J. Res 59, the Bipartisan Budget Act, which established the budget for fiscal year 2015. It passed the House and was signed into law by President Obama. I supported H.J. Res. 59. Despite the fact that Congress already completed a budget outline for this Fiscal Year, the House spent this week debating another FY 2015 budget proposal, one prepared by the House Budget Committee, Chaired by Congressman Paul Ryan.

The so-called “Ryan budget” cuts spending by $5 trillion, placing the burden of those cuts squarely on nondefense programming. Notably, the budget proposal:

  • Increases defense spending by almost $500 billion;
  • Cuts early childhood education funding by $19 billion;
  • Cuts higher education programming by $260 billion; this includes almost $150 billion in cuts to the Pell Grant, which helps make college affordable for students. It also requires students who borrow for college to start paying interest on loans while they are still in school which will add $41 billion to student debt over ten years;
  • Cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $125 billion, depriving many families of essential groceries;
  • Cuts transportation and infrastructure funding by $52 billion, which translates into jobs lost. For every $1 billion cut on infrastructure, almost 35,000 jobs are lost;
  • Scientific research, energy programming and health care are all subject to drastic cuts.

The Ryan budget proposal also makes significant changes to Medicare that will increase costs for seniors. Instead of the current system that guarantees a specific level of coverage, seniors would receive a voucher to use toward purchasing coverage.

Of course, House leadership could not resist one more vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This budget eliminates the ACA, but in the absolute height of hypocrisy, the proposal continues to include the $2 trillion in ACA-related savings as way to balance this budget!!

Tax reform is included here too. Amongst the proposals, the resolution lowers top tax rates to 25%. Their proposal would result in a revenue loss of $3 trillion. According to an analysis by the Citizens for Tax Justice, those with income over $1 million will see their tax bill decrease an average of $200,000 in 2015 alone.

That lost tax revenue is made up through vague tax changes in other areas, but absolutely no details are provided. Once again, the Republican budget proposal places the burden of deficit reduction on middle class families and those who are still struggling to make ends meet. It is not fair and it is certainly not balanced. All of this is a waste of time because Congress already passed an FY 2015 budget outline. The House should have taken up the bipartisan legislation to extend unemployment benefits that passed the Senate this week. I voted NO.

You can read the complete text of the Ryan budget proposal here: http://budget.house.gov/uploadedfiles/fy15_blueprint.pdf

I thought you might also be interested in the Heritage Foundation’s analysis of the Ryan budget: http://blog.heritage.org/2014/04/01/pros-cons-ryans-2015-path-prosperity-budget/ as well as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis: http://www.cbpp.org/files/4-1-14bud-stmt.pdf

The Republican Budget proposal passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

219

12

0

2

DEMOCRAT

0

193

0

6

TOTAL

219

205

0

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

While I did not vote for the Ryan budget, the House also considered several other alternatives. I did not support all of them, but some came much closer to a balanced approach. One of those budgets was presented by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). The CBC proposal includes job creation initiatives as well as investments in affordable housing, transportation infrastructure and research. I voted YES on this proposal because of its targeted investments, particularly as it relates to job creation and training. You can read the Congressional Black Caucus Budget here.

It did not pass and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

0

224

0

8

DEMOCRAT

116

76

0

7

TOTAL

116

300

0

15

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

6

3

0

0

Campaign Finance Reform

The House also considered a budget proposal submitted by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), of which I am a member. This proposal reduces the deficit by more than $4 trillion over ten years. It does this by closing tax loopholes such as those for corporate jets. This proposal also focuses on job creation, with more than 8 million new jobs in three years. Funding is directed to early childhood education, infrastructure improvements and research. I voted YES. You can review the Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget here.

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

0

224

0

8

DEMOCRAT

89

103

0

7

TOTAL

89

327

0

15

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

3

6

0

0

The Republican Study Committee’s budget proposal was even more extreme than the Ryan budget. It cuts spending by more than $7 trillion over ten years. It also repeals the ACA and turns Medicare into a voucher program. It turns Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) into a block grant and freezes spending for those programs at FY 2015 levels. It too increases defense spending at the expense of everything else. I voted NO. You can review the Republican Study Committee’s budget here. This proposal did not pass and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

133

97

0

2

DEMOCRAT

0

194

0

5

TOTAL

133

291

0

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

The Democratic Caucus also offered an FY 2015 budget. It increases the minimum wage, preserves the ACA and includes comprehensive immigration reform. It also makes targeted investments in transportation, education and job creation. The Democratic Alternative makes these investments, in part, by closing corporate tax loopholes. I voted YES. You can read the budget from the Democratic Caucus here. This budget did not pass and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

0

230

0

2

DEMOCRAT

163

31

0

5

TOTAL

163

261

0

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

0

The BRAIN Act

This week I filed The Best Return on America’s Investment Now Act (BRAIN) to encourage highly educated foreign students to remain in the United States. The bill amends the Employment Based Visa (EB) program to create a new category drawn from the current visa limit for persons who have earned Doctorate Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in the United States.

Our higher education system attracts the best and brightest students from around the world. We provide an education, then send graduates home to compete against us. It just doesn’t make sense.

My legislation creates a new Employment Based visa, an EB-6, for individuals already lawfully in the U.S., who have earned U.S. PhD’s in the Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) fields. It does not create a single additional visa for anyone. It simply makes 14,000 of the existing visa pool available to the very best and brightest young people in the world, future innovators and entrepreneurs.

Although we would love it, not enough Americans seek enough of these degrees to satisfy our national needs. We should WANT to keep these graduates here to help expand our economy.

The current EB1 Visa is available for people of “extraordinary ability”. Each year, the US allows up to 40,040 EB1 Visas. However, the standard for “extraordinary” is very high and in practice only persons advanced in their careers typically meet it. The BRAIN Act visas will retain promising young students, whose innovations and entrepreneurship will enrich the United States.

The bill also corrects an existing barrier to talent. Currently, each nation is limited to no more than 2,802 of the EB1 visas. This cap discriminates against larger countries like India and China. U.S. should want the best and brightest regardless of their country of origin. The BRAIN Act eliminates this per-country cap.

Whenever there is discussion about making changes to immigration programs, some critics raise the fear that immigrants “take American jobs”. This argument is most often applied to the EB3 visa. For this visa category, applicants need only be “skilled, professional, or other”. Each year up to 40,040 such visas may be awarded. The BRAIN Act reduces that number by 14,000 and shifts those visas to the new EB-6 program – which is available ONLY to those who have earned a Doctorate in science, technology, engineering and math at a U.S. university.

The BRAIN Act does not create new visas and is targeted only to STEM Doctorate graduates. The idea behind the legislation is to encourage highly educated students to stay in America and help build our economy. Not a single equally qualified American would face competition because of this proposal.

What’s Up Next Week

A District Work Period has been scheduled. The next House votes will take place on Monday April 28th.

Mike


Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Ethics
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services

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