Budget cuts are death sentences!

From the March-April 2015 issue of News & Letters

Chicago—On Feb. 19 I attended a program at the Chicago Temple-United Methodist Church concerning the horrendous state budget cuts that Illinois’ new governor, Bruce Rauner, wants to make. Over 250 people braved one of the coldest days of the year to raise their voices there, and at the outdoor Thompson Center rally that followed. Many talked about the effects the cuts would have on their lives.

Rauner, who was called “an immoral man” by a clergyman who spoke, plans to gut vital programs ranging from mental health services to student loans. One woman spoke of how childcare cuts would mean the loss of her job and her healthcare. “But,” she added, “I can’t go on Medicaid because he wants to cut that too!”

A disabled woman talked about how cuts to the homecare program could mean that she wouldn’t be able to hire people to help her anymore, including the aide who helps her get out of bed in the morning. My daughter is a person with disabilities, and I work as her personal attendant. If these cuts go through, I fear that they will cut the hours my daughter can pay me, leaving us without enough money to survive. I would also lose my health insurance and could no longer get the medications that keep me out of the hospital.

Rauner’s $1.5 billion Medicaid cuts will have a devastating impact on those who depend on this program for their healthcare. “Some people will die from these cuts,” a woman at the rally said. Taxes that should be collected from the rich could fund these programs, but there was no mention of the rich in Rauner’s budget. It is all about taking whatever he can get from those who can least afford it

Rauner also called for an “aggressive review” of eligibility for enrollees in the health insurance program for low-income and disabled people. This implies people are lying about their incomes and disabilities.

Cuts to homecare and disability programs will force more seniors and those with disabilities into nursing homes, such as the ones Rauner owns, making him richer. These nursing homes cost the state two to three times more than providing home services. What he would like to see for the ill is warehousing of people as is happening in prisons now. It flows from having no regard for the lives of people who aren’t like him.

This is exactly in line with the logic of capital. The owner of one large chain of nursing homes has openly stated that “assisted living” is the wave of the future and envisions providing “services” at 20% cheaper than today’s nursing homes. It is no coincidence that abuses have occurred in his institutions. This is the planned common future of the “baby boom” generation.

These inhuman cuts today foreshadow what tomorrow’s capitalism has in store for us. Our lives depend on fighting this inhuman logic.

—Suzanne Rose

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