Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is blasting republican budget proposals as he says they’re cutting programs for the needy. Harkin, a democrat, singled out Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle’s plan that Nussle says would cut spending to help pay for efforts to restore the Gulf coast. He says, “In the weeks since Hurricane Katrina, two programs food assistance and Medicaid have played an absolutely crucial role in delivering relief to victims all across the Gulf Coast. Now the republicans have single out both of these programs for deep cuts. Congressman Nussle’s not satisfied with that, he wants the cuts to go even deeper, even 10-percent more.”
Harkin says republicans in the Senate defeated an amendment he co-sponsored that would’ve added more money to help low-income people pay their heating bills. Harkin says republicans defeated the proposal saying it didn’t have corresponding cuts in the budget to offset the increase. He says, “Advocates of this approach say, ‘well we need to make tough choices’, but that rings hollow. Their idea of making tough choices is to ask needy families to sacrifice food assistance or home heating assistance to make room for yet another round of tax giveaways for America’s most privileged people. They don’t reflect Iowa values.”
Harkin says tax cuts should be pulled out of the mix. He says “With budget deficits skyrocketing, there’s no way in the world we should be passing yet another big round of tax cuts. Nor should all the tax cuts passed since 2001 be considered untouchable. Iowans I talk to are looking for balance and fairness and shared sacrifice.” Harkin says the republican’s approach “takes us in the wrong direction.”
On another topic, Harkin says he needs to find out more about Harriet Miers, the latest nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. He says he doesn’t have a case for or against her as he says he doesn’t know anything about her. He says looks forward to the hearings and a personal talk with her to find out more about how she views the Americans With Disabilities Act and how she views Congress’ role in protecting people with disabilities. Harkin says so far he’s only heard negative comments about Miers from what he calls “Right Wing Republicans.” He says, “Some of the vitriolic attacks on her by the right wing of the Republican Party is uh, is, I don’t know. I just shake my head at it. What do they know that we don’t know? As far as I know, they don’t know anything more than we know, but for some reason, because she simply just doesn’t view the absolute right wing line they’re ready to trash her. I just think that’s unconscionable what the right wing is doing.” Harkin voted against the recent nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Roberts was confirmed anyway as the Chief Justice.