WATERLOO — The expected passage of a budget resolution in the U.S. House today is largely seen as a means for Republicans to move ahead with tax cuts. But a group of Iowa activists has a long list of concerns about both.
Small business owners and elected officials voiced their misgivings about the budget resolution, expected to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, and an as-yet-unreleased tax reform proposal during a conference call Wednesday organized by Main Street Alliance.
“Deep spending cuts will cause health care, education, food and housing costs to skyrocket, which will have a ripple effect on small businesses who depend on strong local economies with plenty of consumer demand and customers,” said ReShonda Young, owner of Popcorn Heaven in Waterloo.
She added, “As families are forced to pay more for vital services, they’ll have less disposable income, meaning small businesses like Popcorn Heaven would see a decline in customers.”
Young and others on the call took issue with the notion the budget resolution or tax reform would benefit small businesses. She said the proposed reduction to corporate tax rates would have no impact on her business.
Elected officials also noted a trickle-down impact of the spending cuts and tax cuts in the budget resolution.
“The budget cuts will decimate Iowa’s budget,” said state Rep. Marti Anderson, D-Des Moines. “Iowa’s budget, which is already stretched too thin, will be forced to make up the difference by steeply, steeply cutting the quality of services on everything from education to health care to road maintenance and public safety.”
Chris Schwartz, Black Hawk County supervisor, stressed how cuts to the social safety net could have impacts locally, particularly for the already financially strapped county-run nursing home Country View.
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“The current Medicaid shortfall gets passed on to our county’s property taxpayers,” Schwartz said. “If congresspeople like Rod Blum, who has ignored all invitations to meet with us and to visit Country View, push for further cuts in Medicaid, they’re going to create a hole so big in our budget that we cannot feasibly fill it with property tax revenues.”
Schwartz said an invitation, first sent in February, remains open to Black Hawk County’s federal delegation, Republicans U.S. Rep. Rod Blum and Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, to meet with local officials and tour Country View.
The budget resolution passed the U.S. Senate last Thursday with support from Ernst and Grassley. The U.S. House is expected to adopt it today, without amendments, allowing both chambers to quickly move on to tax reform.
The process also allows the U.S. Senate to take up tax cuts without the threat of a filibuster from Democrats.
Blum said Wednesday he was unlikely to support the Senate’s budget resolution. He called it a “bad budget” that doesn’t do enough to get the federal “fiscal house in order.” Blum said, though, he expects it to pass the House so work can begin on tax reform.
The tax reform bill is expected to be introduced next week, and details are still coming together. House leaders hope to pass the bill before the end of November and see it become law by the end of the year.
The activists, however, said they will continue to call members of Congress and speak to neighbors about the impacts of the bill in an effort to prevent it from becoming law.
“I think the hardest thing in all of this is just keeping the energy going to have those conversations,” said Julie Stauch, a business owner in West Des Moines. “We’ve seen some really good effect to that this year, and so I think we should keep up with that.”