April 10, 2013

Public Citizen Applauds the Maintenance of Vital Programs and Opposes Cutting Entitlements

Obama Budget Boosts Financial Oversight and Workplace Protections, But Makes Cuts to Medicare

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama’s budget for the 2014 fiscal year has been touted by the administration as one that makes critical investments to strengthen the middle class, create jobs and grow the economy while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way. While Public Citizen supports the protection of vital programs, cutting entitlements should not be on the table, the organization maintains.

Under the plan, critical federal agencies that provide oversight and worker protections have been spared – including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, financial agencies and the Office of Governmental Ethics, for example.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will receive a slight increase to $571 million dollars so it can protect the nation’s most valuable asset, its workers,” said Keith Wrightson, worker safety and health advocate of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The budget also provides $381 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), including additional funding for MSHA’s enforcement programs to enforce and promote mine safety and health laws. This funding will be critical in the wake of the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.”
 
Added Micah Hauptman, financial policy counsel with Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, “We appreciate the president’s substantial funding increases for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Those increases (27 percent and 54 percent, respectively), if deployed effectively, will help safeguard our nation’s financial security, and protect investors and the public from fraud, manipulation and other abusive market practices.”

“We are pleased the administration highlighted the importance of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and proposed adequate funding,” said Bart Naylor, financial policy advocate with Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The Dodd-Frank reform law obliges this small agency with enormous new responsibility of overseeing the $700 trillion derivatives market, a volume 10 times that of 10 years ago.”

“Importantly, the Obama administration is not proposing that funding for campaign finance and ethics enforcement be slashed,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The budgets for such agencies as the Federal Election Commission and Office of Government Ethics are largely unaffected by the disastrous cuts that will afflict other critical services.”

Entitlement reforms are one such area of critical service.

“We are strongly opposed to the president’s plan to cut Medicare,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Medicare beneficiaries would take an extreme hit, including through higher premiums. We should leave Medicare alone.”

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