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Blog: Granted, the Nation’s Checkbook is a Mess

Mar 02, 2011 | By Marge Clark, BVM

However, current actions to clean it up are placing responsibility for balancing the budget on the backs of those who are not responsible for the imbalance -- and those actions cannot cut enough to make a dent in the mess. 

A budget for FY2011, now almost half over, has not been passed.  The temporary approval of expenditures expires on Friday, March 4.  And, Congress seems unable to agree to a proposal to get to the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2011).  Proposed cuts to social safety net programs are draconian.

Yesterday, March 1, the House passed a measure to keep the government running until March 18.  House leadership touts it as a “compromise,” which is difficult to see, as the money to be saved in two weeks is exactly the amount saved in any two weeks of the seven-month bill.  However, the vote was bipartisan, with 104 Democrats agreeing to it, and six Republicans voting against it.  It is off to the Senate for a vote today, March 2.

The FY11 budget needs to be in place.  It is unacceptable to do additional short-term Continuing Resolutions.  The House and the Senate need, during this two-week period, to come to a resolution for financing the government for the next seven months.  It is critical that they do not use the agreement to this $4 billion in domestic discretionary spending as a springboard to go beyond the cuts proposed in the earlier seven month Continuing Resolution, on which this two week plan is based.  It should not be seen as opening the door for House leadership to propose cuts beyond the $61 billion – moving closer to their desired $100 billion in foreign aid and domestic human needs.   House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (VA) seems to indicate possibly greater cuts:

“Now that Congressional Democrats and the administration have expressed an openness for spending cuts, the momentum is there for a long-term measure that starts to finally get our fiscal house in order. Changing the culture of borrowing and spending in Washington is no small feat, but I am heartened by today’s action and it shows that Republicans have started to make the meaningful changes that voters called for in the last election, and I call upon Senator Reid to begin working with us or offer a plan of his own.”

Some of the effects of this $4 billion cut?     

  • 218,000 young children would not be able to receive Head Start services
  • 11 million patients would lose healthcare they would have received at Community Health Centers over the next year, with 3.2 million losing care in the next few months; 127 health center sites would have to close and 7,434 jobs would be lost
  • 9.4 million low-income college students would lose some or all of their Pell Grants
  • All One-Stop centers for job-training and other services would close
  • 81,000 low-income people, mostly seniors and some children, will no longer receive food  packages and six states would not be able to join the program after being approved to do so 
  • 10,000 people with significant long-term disabilities would lose their rental assistance; most of these would lose their homes.