Republicans have moved to strip funding of women’s health services, services that help the poor, services that aid minorities, and services that help children. But that’s apparently not enough for Republicans.
In Missouri, House Republicans are proposing a $24 billion dollar budget, which is a lot of money. But the GOP has spotted one group of people that they haven’t yet bullied: blind people.
According to the Kansas City Star,
“The Supplemental Aid to the Blind program pays for medical care for about 2,800 people who earn more than $9,495 a year — and therefore don’t qualify for Medicaid — but also receive monthly payments from the state’s blind pension fund. They cannot have more than $20,000 in assets and cannot have sighted spouses who work. But in the $24 billion budget passed Thursday by the Missouri House, the $28 million health care program for the blind was eliminated. The money instead was used to avoid another year of cuts to higher education.”
That’s right. Republicans, in their finite compassion for everything, have decided to slash what amounts to mere pocket change from the budget to avoid education cuts. Republicans also say that this cut is about fairness because people who are deaf or have some other disability don’t receive supplemental aid. We’re talking about a budget that is already $24 billion. What’s another $28 million going to harm? And that’s the point. Only cutting this money does harm.
“Christopher Gray, executive director of the Missouri Council of the Blind, said lawmakers are focusing on numbers instead of the impact their decision will have on people. The unemployment rate for the blind is nearly 70 percent, Gray pointed out, and many have other disabilities in addition to blindness that put them at risk of going uninsured. But the decision to end the program also is fiscally irresponsible, he argued. “Not only are these cuts just plain wrong, they will cost the citizens of Missouri tens of millions of dollars because of a $28 million transfer,” Gray said. “The costs will come when blind people who have no more medical benefit are forced to go to emergency rooms for treatment or to move into nursing homes when their support system is pulled out from under them.” Gray added that while the blind are the only disabled people who have this type of benefit, other disabilities have different types of services or Medicaid waivers that they are eligible for that are not available to the blind.”
So not only does this cut hurt the blind, it stands to cost taxpayers more in the long run. Republicans know there is a solution to this. All they need to do is raise state taxes on the highest incomes. But they refuse to do that. If your income range is $9,001 and over, your tax rate on every dollar of income earned in Missouri is 6%. The simple solution to this budget problem is to create a new bracket for those who make $100,000 or more and set the rate at higher than 6%. It really is that simple, but Republicans would rather steal from the blind than make the wealthy pay their fair share