Jewish Groups, Lawmaker Rap U.S. House 2012 Budget Plan


(JTA) — Jewish groups and a key Jewish lawmaker condemned the U.S. House of Representative’s budget proposal for 2012, saying it will hurt the Americans most in need.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs said in a statement released Wednesday that the Republican-backed budget proposal unveiled the previous day, which slashes nearly $6 trillion from federal spending over the next 10 years, "relies on cuts which will be harmful to many of those in America who are most in need."

"We are concerned that a singular focus on deficit reduction means our families, those looking for work and others who are held up by our national social safety net will be neglected," said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.

B’nai B’rith International said in a statement Wednesday that the organization is "deeply troubled" by the budget proposal, saying it would damage Medicaid and Medicare.

"The proposed budget does not control health costs or encourage efficiencies in the broader health care system; it simply relies on dramatic cuts, with a staggering impact on the elderly," the group said. "By making Medicaid a block grant while creating a decreasingly valuable Medicare voucher, this bill would deal a devastating double-blow to older adults as well as the disabled."

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the proposal, which would slash the international affairs budget by 40 percent, sets "a new standard for recklessness and irresponsibility."

"This shortsighted plan is a slap in the face to our senior military leadership, which has argued time and again that diplomacy and development are key pillars of U.S. national security," Berman said in a statement. The cuts "would also severely curtail U.S. efforts to promote human rights, democracy and free markets — which will lead to more instability, and ultimately, greater costs for U.S. taxpayers."

A budget for fiscal year 2011 was never passed. The government is facing a shutdown Friday when the latest resolution to keep it running expires Friday.