Main Street Alliance raises concerns about GOP budget

By Chistinia Crippes, Waterloo Courier


WATERLOO ? The expected passage of a budget resolution in the U.S. House Thursday is largely seen as a means for Republicans to more easily move ahead with tax reform. But a group of Iowa activists had a long list of concerns about both.

Small business owners and elected officials voiced their misgivings about the budget resolution, which is 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 adds, ?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 that either the budget resolution or any tax reform would benefit small businesses, despite claims to the contrary. She said the proposed reduction to corporate 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 Iowa 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, also stressed how cuts to the social safety net, or entitlements, could have impacts locally, particularly for the already-financially strapped county-run nursing home Country View.

?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, to Black Hawk County?s federal delegation, Republicans U.S. Rep. Rod Blum and Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, was still extended both to meet with local officials and to 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 on Thursday, without amendments, which will save a few weeks working on a compromise so both chambers can more quickly move on to tax reform.

The process also makes it so that tax reform can be taken up in the U.S. Senate 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 expected it to pass the House so it could begin to work on tax reform.

The tax reform bill is expected to be introduced next week, and many details are still coming together. But House leaders hope to pass the bill through their chamber before the end of November and hope to see it become law by the end of the year.

The activists, however, said they will continue efforts to call their 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, adding, ?We?ve seen some really good effect to that this year, and so I think we should keep up with that.?