House Republicans yesterday released their draft budget proposal for labor, health, and human service, which in one fell swoop revives the assault on all their favorite bugaboos, including Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, the National Labor Relations Board, and President Obama’s health care reform law. The GOP also targeted heat subsidies that prevent low-income families from freezing in the winter, and slashed education funding by $2.4 billion.
Perhaps most surprisingly for a party that claims to be focused on job creation, the GOP budget reduces funding for job training programs that give the unemployed the skills they need to find work in an ailing economy:
Employment Training Administration (ETA) – The legislation provides the ETA with $7.5 billion in new discretionary budget authority – $2.2 billion (-23%) below last year’s level and $2.1 billion (-22%) below the President’s request. Much of this reduction is due to the transition of employment and training programs to a federal fiscal year and the elimination of $2.4 billion in advance appropriations for the 2013 fiscal year.
Slashing funding for these training programs by nearly a quarter will deprive thousands of workers of a better chance to find employment. The bill also cuts the Department of Labor’s funding by $2.6 billion and “increases oversight” of job training programs by requiring the GAO to conduct a study on their cost-effectiveness — a transparent pretext for making future cuts. The budget also laughably claims to “foster a pro-job growth environment” through a number of anti-union measures.
The national unemployment rate remains above 9 percent and 25 million Americans are unemployed or can’t find full-time work. Yet this is not the first time congressional Republicans have tried to zero out job training programs.
In February the plan proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) — and approved by almost the entire GOP caucus — gutted federal job training funding by nearly 50 percent. Republicans’ preoccupation with abolishing these programs illustrates that their talk about creating jobs is nothing more than empty rhetoric to conceal a pro-corporate agenda.