NCLR: “Ryan Budget” would be an “ax” to most vulnerable members of society
Latinos are the most uninsured ethnic group and would be deeply affected by a “Ryan Budget.”
By EMILY DERUY
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) raised concerns about the impact of the “Ryan Budget” on Latino families during a conference call on Tuesday afternoon.
Paul Ryan, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate, developed a budget that the Republican party has adopted as a blueprint for 2013. While conservatives have lauded its spending cuts, Democrats have argued it will unfairly target the poor by making cuts to programs they rely on, such as Medicaid and Medicare.
According to Leticia Miranda, senior policy advisor for the economic and employment policy project at NCLR, the “Ryan Budget” would “make the ax fall hardest on the most vulnerable in our society.”
Project leaders for the largest Latino advocacy organization in the country addressed a range of issues, including healthcare, Social Security, and education, during the call.
Jennifer Ng’andu, deputy director of NCLR’s health policy project, said the cuts to healthcare are particularly alarming because Latinos are the most uninsured ethnic group, and are more likely to spend money out-of-pocket to pay for healthcare than other groups.
Romney and Ryan both support repealing Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a healthcare program widely supported by Latinos, and reducing funding for Medicaid and CHIP, programs that provide healthcare coverage to low-income families.
Medicaid and CHIP “serve as the most important programs for Latinos,” Ng’andu said, adding that a quarter of all Latinos use those programs, and nearly half of all Latino children in the U.S. are covered by them.
She added that many young Latinos — nearly one million — depend on insurance from their parents. Under Obama’s healthcare law, young adults can be insured by their parents up to age 26, a provision not supported by the Republican ticket.
Ryan’s budget would also diminish educational opportunities for Latino children, said Liany Elba Arroyo, associate director of NCLR’s education and children’s policy project. The program would reduce the number of Head Start — a federal school readiness program — slots available, and according to Arroyo, Latinos make up 36 percent of all participants in the program.
Providing future adults with a high-quality education is critical for the future of the economy, she said, adding that Latinos represent about 23 percent of children in public schools and about 26 percent of the population under age one.
“Not providing them with high-quality education is akin to cutting a leg off a table,” Arroyo said, adding that young adult Latinos would also be hit hard, specifically by cuts to Pell Grants, which help 40 percent of Latino college students attend school.
Emma Oppenheim, associate director of NCLR’s workforce development policy initiative, said the “Ryan Budget” would do little to improve the Latino unemployment rate — which at over 10 percent is two points higher than the national average. She said Latinos disproportionately work in the industries hit hardest by the economic downturn such as construction, and that many Latinos don’t have the skills needed to fill the jobs becoming available. She said that workforce development programs help teach those skills, but that Ryan’s plan would drop funding for them by 22 percent.
Miranda, NCLR’s senior policy advisor for the economic and employment policy project, said that the “Ryan Budget” would also cut Social Security — by 39 percent for workers earning an average wage of 43,000 a year — and reduce refundable tax credits — specifically the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit — which many Latinos depend on to boost their income. More than half the Latino seniors in the country depend on social security for more than 90 percent of their income, she added.
“The winners with the ‘Ryan Budget’ would be millionaires,” Miranda said.