House Republicans, as part of their 2012 budget, have proposed dramatic cuts to food assistance programs, including cuts to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that would prevent hundreds of thousands of eligible women and their children from accessing the program. Late last month, the House Appropriations Committee approved more than $830 million in cuts to WIC and millions more in cuts to the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.
To cut these programs with so many families still feeling the effects of the Great Recession is a travesty. But to do so after spending tens of billions of dollars to extend tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans, as Republicans forced Congress to do back in December, is even worse. CAP’s Melissa Boteach and Seth Hanlon found that the cost of the GOP cut to WIC is equivalent to the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires alone for just one week:
The deal struck last December to extend the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush gave the average millionaire a tax break of $139,199 for 2011, according to the Tax Policy Center, or nearly $2,700 per week. Given that about 321,000 households reported incomes of more than $1 million in the most recent year for which there are data from the Internal Revenue Service, that means the Bush tax cuts provide millionaires with about $860 million in tax breaks every week—more than enough to stave off the $833 million in proposed cuts to WIC.
Economists have estimated that every dollar invested in WIC “saves between $1.77 and $3.13 in health care costs in the first 60 days after an infant’s birth by reducing the instance of low-birth-weight babies and improving child immunization rates.”
The Hill reported today that Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) convinced GOP appropriators to reinstate $147 million of their $833 million in cuts to WIC, but she is not optimistic that the money will ultimately be approved on the House floor. “I don’t think [the Republicans] will let it stand. I think they will attack it on the floor,” DeLauro said.