It’s easy to forget when you listen to politicians talk about cutting the federal budget that those billions they throw around are really goods and services used by the American people. And the majority of the cuts they’re talking about is money that goes to American families.
There are four different budget proposals in the mix right now, so it can be hard to keep them all straight. The first was a “continuing resolution” budget that kept the government from shutting down on March 5th. That bill, PL 112-4, funded the government through March 18th and included $4 billion in cuts.Many of the items eliminated were programs that the President had chosen not to continue in the 2011-2012 budget. However, some cuts will directly impact states and individuals. For example, the additional $650 million in additional highway funding provided to states as a part of the stimulus package in 2009 have been eliminated, which will likely lead to a slowdown in highway construction projects and lower job growth.
There were also cuts of $15 million to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, $21 million to the Children and Families Services program, $229 million to the Department of Education for Innovation and Improvement, $129 million to Higher Education, and $173 million to HUD Economic Development Initiatives. And, nearly on the first anniversary of the Massey Energy mining disaster, $1 million was cut from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
The second round was another continuing resolution (PL 112-6) to fund the government through April 5th, which included $6 billion in cuts. Again, most of the programs eliminated had not been requested in the President’s budget for next year, but some will have an impact on American’s welfare. For example, $224 million was eliminated from the Labor Department for Community Service Employment for Older Americans. Two programs totaling $15.4 million were eliminated from the National Park Service. $50 million was deducted from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
And despite recent outbreaks food-borne illness, including Wright Egg and last week’s Jennie-O turkey episode, $24 million was cut from the Department of Agriculture for Animal and Plant Health Inspection. Other cuts include $91 million from Juvenile Justice Programs, a total of $1.04 billion from federal building construction and repair funds, $59 million from the Small Business Aministration, and $172 million from the EPA’s State and Tribal Assistance Grants.
Congress is now on its third attempt at funding the government through the end of this fiscal year, which ends September 30. Remember, the last continuing resolution only runs through April 5, so if another funding bill is not passed by that date the government shuts down. Democrats have offered cuts totaling $33 billion, but the details of specifically which programs are impacted are not yet clear.
Meanwhile, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R) has introduced another continuing resolution that would fund the government for one additional week that proposes $12 billion in immediate cuts. Rogers’ bill contains a provision to fund the Department of Defense through the end of the fiscal year, with an increased budget of 1.5%, but immediately cuts $1.4 billion to the Department of Agriculture, $149 million from law enforcement constuction accounts, $22 million from the Census Bureau, $139 million from NASA and another $20 million from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), on top of the $67 million cut by H.J. Res. 48. Other cuts include $632 million from energy and water projects, elimination of the funding for high speed rail ($1.5 billion), $156 million from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Immunization and Respiratory Disease funding, $1.27 billion from the Department of the Interior, and $237 million from U.N. obligations.
Of particular concern are a current fiscal year reductions of $390 million to the LIHEAP low-income energy assistance fund, $147 million to Veterans Affairs for personnel costs and $43 million in VA construction projects.
The fourth proposal which hit the table today is from Rep. Paul Ryan (R). His budget for FY 2012 (October, 2011 through September, 2012) would cut a total of $179 billion from federal spending. Ryan’s plan would do away with federal Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and subsidized housing programs as they’re structured today. On the other hand, it would cut the top tax rate for corporations and wealthy individuals from 35% to 25%. We’ll have an in-depth look at the impacts of his proposal tomorrow.
It’s clear that the GOP is targeting just about every program that benefits the bottom 80% of American taxpayers. Yet corporate welfare benefits such as energy tax credits are left untouched and tax rates for the wealthy are reduced. It looks as though the class warfare is in full swing.