Ryan releases FY 2015 budget seeking EPA, SNAP changes

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 2, 2014 - House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released a fiscal year 2015 budget proposal Tuesday that aims to reduce federal spending by $5.1 trillion over 10 years and includes policy recommendations on EPA regulations and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as possible cuts to the crop insurance program.

The bill would repeal President Obama's health care law, change Medicare benefits for retirees, and target “wasteful” spending in a myriad of government agencies, while aiming not to raise taxes. “This is a plan to balance the budget and create jobs, and it builds off a simple fact: We can't keep spending money we don't have,” Ryan said. “Too many Americans struggle to make ends meet, while Washington continues to live beyond its means.”

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While the proposal is not expected to move in the Senate, the House Budget Committee will likely approve the bill during a mark-up today and send it to the full floor for likely passage.

The White House and Democrats quickly panned Ryan's proposal, saying it would benefit wealthy individuals, while squeezing out the middle class.

Jay Carney, White House press secretary, said, “Instead of ensuring that Americans earn a fair wage for a hard day's work and lifting millions of people out of poverty, the House Republican approach undermines Americans working hard to support their families by slashing food stamps and Medicaid.” Carney said the proposal would raise taxes on middle class families with children by an average of at least $2,000 in order to cut taxes for households with incomes over $1 million.

While the budget plan does not list specific funding amounts for departments, it does offer policy recommendations on several examples of “unnecessary and wasteful spending.” Since 2009, the White House has generated over $494 billion in regulatory activity, with an additional $87.6 billion in regulatory costs currently pending, according to Ryan.

The highest regulatory costs, the plan said, come from rules issued by EPA that are “primarily targeted at the coal industry.” The plan said a proposed 2013 rule seeking to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired power plants are “unachievable with current commercially available technology, resulting in a de-facto ban on new coal-fired power plants.” The proposal also criticized an estimated $15 billion spent in FY 2010 on about 670 renewable energy initiatives.

For SNAP, the budget proposal recommends converting the federal program into a state grant program “tailored to meet each state's needs.” The allotment would increase mostly based on the consumer price index and USDA's Thrifty Food Plan index. “Such a reform would provide incentives for states to ensure dollars will go towards those who need them most,” the plan said. In addition, the proposal would require more stringent work requirements and time limits for SNAP benefits.

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., said Tuesday that the budget proposal is “more of the same” favoring political messaging over results. Peterson said while the 2014 farm bill cut $13 billion from the farm safety net, the Ryan budget calls for an additional $23 billion cut in both farm and crop insurance programs. Further, Peterson said Ryan's plan would cut SNAP benefits by $125 billion.

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, called the proposal “partisan and impractical.” Johnson said the farm bill includes significant savings, including SNAP cuts, and questioned why House Republican leadership wants further cuts. “That ship has sailed,” Johnson said. “It's time to move on to other important issues and to stop this annual exercise in budget slashing.”

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