Bob Greenstein on the changing federal policy landscape
Posted on 06/19/17 by Zach Schiller (he/him) in Revenue & Budget
Robert Greenstein, founder and president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, explained the deep flaws in Congressional efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in two Cleveland speeches in mid-June. If you weren’t able to attend, you can hear, see, or read Greenstein’s talk at the City Club of Cleveland and read his address at the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation. Policy Matters Executive Director Amy Hanauer wrote an op-ed about Greenstein’s legacy which appeared in the Plain Dealer.
Greenstein has helped extend and preserve access to the essentials for tens of millions of struggling Americans. Appearing at the City Club, Greenstein also discussed President Trump’s budget (an exaggerated version of the budget plans that the House Republican majority has advanced every year since 2011, he noted) and how it would hurt Ohio.
That includes turning back the clock and ending national food stamp benefit standards and drastic cuts in support for child care, job training and other programs, while making lavish tax cuts for people at the top. Turning to state policy issues, Greenstein noted that the Republican-controlled legislature in Kansas recently repealed large tax cuts it had enacted starting in 2012 after deep budget shortfalls and lagging economic growth. The Kansas tax cuts, Greenstein said, “represent an important cautionary tale from which both state and federal policymakers can learn.” It’s especially applicable in Ohio, which has approved its own damaging tax cuts that haven’t delivered the promised results.
In both speeches, Greenstein emphasized the importance of the upcoming U.S. Senate vote on the health care bill. “As we meet here today, time is short. We’re fast approaching a Senate vote. I see two possible paths,” Greenstein said at the City Club.
“Along one path, the Senate’s Republican majority passes its bill, making tens of millions of Americans uninsured or underinsured, imposing intense financial pressure on health care providers who serve large numbers of lower-income people, and creating serious problems for state budgets. That also will mean considerable job losses in the health care sector — a particular concern for Cleveland, where health care is one of the biggest sectors of employment.
“But there’s another possible path. One of Governor Kasich’s advisors recently indicated that the governor doesn’t support health care legislation that, and I quote, “would dislodge millions from health care coverage.” End quote. That indeed should be a key test. Unfortunately, it’s one that the Senate bill almost certainly will fail. Accordingly, Senate Republicans should turn that bill aside, and congressional leaders should then launch a bipartisan effort to build on the progress in extending coverage to over 20 million Americans and make improvements to stabilize insurance markets, improve access, and hold down costs.
“But there’s a precondition for that: we first need three Republican Senators to step up and reject the emerging Senate bill so that it does not secure the 51 votes it needs to pass. This crucial vote could be just days away.”
Greenstein’s addresses are required reading (or viewing or listening) material for anyone who wants to understand what’s at stake for millions of Americans if we allow draconian cuts to health care and other essential services to happen on our watch.