The Senate and the House in Congress have reached a deal for a tax plan that would give unnecessary tax cuts to the richest top 5 percent of Americans and most profitable corporations. This deal now clears the way for final votes next week. That this tax bill is full of tax games, roadblocks, and glitches that will drive up the federal deficit by over $1.5 trillion has been widely reported. What is not widely covered is that passing the tax plan and increasing the deficit is only the first of two steps planned by Congress.
The second step involves lawmakers using the deficit they created to justify major budget cuts to federal investments that help millions of North Carolinians.
Below is a brief list that provides the total number of North Carolinians that currently receive assistance from a major federal program that could be affected from the second step of the tax plan. Included in the total numbers are children, students, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
- Medicaid: 2,024,342
- Medicare: 1,883,428
- SNAP (food assistance): 972,535
- Housing Assistance: 256,545
- Supplemental Security Income: 233,432
- Health Marketplace Enrollees: 549,155
- Pell Grants: 223,633
Some Congressional leaders have already stated publicly their intent to cut programs and services starting next year. In many cases some federal programs could be cut to nothing automatically as a result of a 2010 law that Congress passed to keep itself from increasing the deficit too much.
Luis A. Toledo is a Public Policy Analyst for the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.