Canton Repository

March 26, 2004

Budget vote splits Republicans, Democrats

By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — Area Democratic lawmakers attacked a $2.4 trillion Republican-authored spending plan Thursday as a giveaway to the rich, which will hurt veterans, schoolchildren and the poor.

“We don’t have enough money for veterans and we don’t have enough money for No Child Left Behind,” complained Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Warren, who voted against the plan. He blamed the lack of funding on tax cuts championed by President Bush.

Area Republicans supported the budget resolution, which the House approved by a vote of 215-212 on Thursday.

“It’s a balanced approach,” said Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township.

Proponents of the plan claim it would cut this year’s projected $477 billion deficit to $377 billion next year and in half within four years. It includes $402 billion for defense and up to $50 billion to finance operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the House Budget Committee said.

Rep. Bob Ney, R-St. Clairsville, who also supported the plan, was unavailable for comment.

Democratic Reps. Sherrod Brown of Lorain and Ted Strickland of Lucasville joined Ryan in voting against the plan.

Strickland predicted dire consequences for veterans. He said the budget provides $1.3 billion less for veterans’ health care than a House committee recommended.

“We’re going to have thousands of fewer health-care providers (for veterans); we’re going to have longer waiting lists for care,” he said. “I think this is outrageous and shameful.”

Regula rejected the claim. He said the budget provides veterans with a $1.2 billion increase over the current year.

“I just don’t think there will be cuts in services,” he said. “How can you be cutting services when you put in $1.2 billion more?”

Brown charged that over 10 years, the plan would cut $24 billion from Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor.

With less federal money devoted to Medicaid, “governors are going to cut off even more people, more poor kids, more seniors,” he said.

Regula was skeptical that the plan would result in cuts in
Medicaid.

The House plan must be reconciled with a Senate version passed March 12.