There is a battle brewing in Congress over the federal budget. Republicans want to cut some discretionary spending on domestic programs in the current budget in order to decrease the overal federal deficit and the Democrats are against some of their proposed cuts. Hence, there is stalemate with the two sides not agreeing and threats of a government shut down looms. Meanwhille, a few days ago, President Obama presented his budget for 2012 that also includes some reduction in domestic spending. Both sides are taking some flak, including the President who is being accused of punting on the controversial decision about making cuts to so-called “entitlement” programs such as Medicare and Social Security because his budget exempts those programs from the spending freeze. Both the GOP’s 2011 proposed spending cuts and the President’s 2012 budget exempt military from spending freezes.
To better assist families understand what is at stake, below is a summary of the GOP and the President’s proposed cuts, inclouding some that may impact families and children.
The GOP proposed cuts that would:
- Eliminate $600 million from Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget request for the Community Oriented Policing Services program.
- Cut $758 million from food assistance to low-income women, infants, and children.
- Defund Obama’s healthcare reform act (called Obamacare by Republicans)
- Eliminate automatic pay increase for civic federal workers for 5 years
- Cut $16 million from Economic Development Assistance
- Decrease funding for the Minority Business Development Agency by $2million
- Decreate Maternal and Child Health Block Grants by $210 million
- Eliminate $327 million from family planning programs
- Cut the civilian workforce by a total of 15% and allow only one new worker for every 2 workers who leave federal employment until the reduction target has been met
- Eliminate funding for all stimulus funding $45 billion in total savings
- Eliminate federal control of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac for $30 billion in savings
- Repeal the Medicaid FMAP increase in the “State Bailout”
- Eliminate and spending cuts to over 100 specific programs for $330 billion in savings over ten years.
Meanwhile, within the 254 pages of the President’s 2012 budget are proposals to eliminate certain domestic programs and to freeze domestic discretionary spending for five years, a cut that will amount in a reduction of over 10% in spending. The budget proposes to:
- Eliminate 13 Department of Education discretionary programs and consolidate of 38 K-12 programs into 11 new programs.
- Cut funding for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) by 50 percent. CSBG provides funding for the important work of Community Action Agencies but does not hold these agencies accountable for outcomes. The Budget provides $350 million to fund the highest performing Community Action Agencies so that scarce taxpayer dollars are targeted to high-performing agencies that are most successful in meeting important community needs.
- Cut $100 billion dollars from the Pell grant program and other Higher Education programs, but use those savings to ensure that eligible would be able to receive the current maximum award of $5,500 per school year.
The White House defends its decision to make the cuts saying this is a time for all to make sacrifices. Further, it maintains and increases spending in many existing domestic programs. Pro family spending including proposals to
- Invest $8.099 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start to serve approximately 968,000 children and families
- Maintain the historic expansion undertaken with Recovery Act funds, in addition to the $350 million invested in the Early Learning Challenge Fund.
- Provide $6.3 billion for the Child Care and Development Fund
- Provide an additional $1.3 billion, to support 1.7 million children with child care subsidies.
- Invest $150 million in a new initiative to increase college access and completion and improve educational productivity through an evidence-based grant competition.
- Provide $50 million in 2012 and a total of $1.3 billion over five years in performance-based funding to institutions that have demonstrable success in enrolling and graduating more high-need students and enabling them to enter successful employment
- Allocate $2.5 billion over 10 years to support a comprehensive child welfare reform proposal in order to help prevent abuse and keep children in safe homes and out of long-term foster care placements
- Fund $1 billion over 10 years to encourage States to pass through child support payments to families rather than retaining those payments.
- Provide $570 million over 10 years for States to provide access and visitation services, which can strengthen a father’s relationship with his children and facilitate the payment of child support.
- To help states through difficult fiscal times, in FY 2012 and 2013, the Budget provides an additional $300 million per year for State performance incentive payments, which continues an emphasis on program outcomes and efficiency. The Budget also provides for $75 million in Responsible Fatherhood grants and $75 million in Healthy Marriage grants in FY 2012.
Also, while all of this infighting is going on at the federal level, 48 of 50 states are facing serious budget shortfalls. The Daily Beast created a gallery detailing the problem. The state of Wisconsin, in particular, is in the news lately over its battle over money owed to government workers for pension and healthcare. Its governor, Scott Walker (R), wants to end collective bargaining rights of the unions that represent state employees and wants state employees to pay more towards their pension and healthcare. Parents need to be educated on how these budget matters will impact their families.
It is all an excellent lesson in civics for families. Those heads of household who have to factor taxes in their family budget have rightfully been calling for a decrease in government spending. Many voted for candidates whose campaign promises included making the necessary cuts and now must be prepared to shoulder the impact of those cuts, even if they impact their families directly or indirectly. Crying foul now may be hypocritical. Though times are tough, it’s all about making sacrifices at this point.
Likewise, for those who opted against voting at all during the 2010 midterms, and traditionally vote for candidates that are more sympathetic towards and less likely to make major cuts in domestic spending should also be prepared to live with their decisions to send the opposing candidate into office de facto. They too should not be complaining when and if the proposed cuts hurt them specifically.
It’s like the saying goes “Put up or shut up.” Each side has to stand by the decision made. It will be interesting to see if it all helps the health of the overall economy any. Only time will tell.
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