The details and the implications of President Bush's proposed FY2006 budget are coming into clearer focus. The results, if adopted, will be terrible for the nation.
Bush intends to cut discretionary domestic spending by what will amount to $214 billion over the next five years. The cuts would total only $18 billion next year, but the kicker is that the budget plan involves imposing spending caps on programs for five years.
Consider the impact both in terms of real dollars (adjusted for inflation over the period in question) and in terms of who will be affected.
No Child Left Behind, the President's own education strategy, would see a 12% reduction in funds over the next five years--$11.5 billion lost.
The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program--recognized as one of the best for the money, especially as a preventative strategy to reduce the number of low birth-weight infants and thus, the high cost of neo-natal health care costs--would be cut by $658 million. Translation in real terms: 660,000 women would no longer receive coverage.
Head Start, the highly successful early childhood education initiative, would be cut by $3.3 billion so that by 2010, 118,000 fewer pre-schoolers would be ineligible.
Clean water and clean air funding will decline by 20% by 2010. My oldest grandchild will be 8-years-old by then.
Community development programs that allow cities to invest in tough, impoverished neighborhoods--like here in Dallas--will lose $9.2 billion and will shrink by 36% by 2010.
Most of these cuts would be in funding sent first to the states.
Just what Texas needs, more funding losses. I can't wait to watch the Texas Legislature make up the difference in lost revenue for programs that benefit low-income Texans. We have such a great track record in the state of caring for our neighbors at the bottom!
David Border, columnist for The Washington Post, reported these facts recently (Sunday, February 27, 2005) and then went on to point out something even more important. While these cuts are being proposed--cuts that will disproportionately affect the nation's poor, no plan is forthcoming on how to address the funding crisis for the real big ticket entitlement programs that serve the middle class (i. e. Medicare and Social Security).
So, let's see. Tax cuts, deep tax cuts, made permanent for the top. Harsh cuts running out half a decade at the bottom. No policy plan on sustaining things in the middle. Border reported that David Walker, the head of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, called current budget policy "unsustainable."
Anybody awake enough to notice a problem here?