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Sunday, February 27, 2011

"It’s Time for Leadership"

The GOP's plan to cut Pell Grants, Head Start, and other such programs won't do much to solve our budget problem, and it's likely to slow the economy's recovery. But it does help to complete the process of turning tax cuts for the wealthy into cuts to social programs:

The Budget Fight Continues, NY Times: In defense of their bill to slash federal spending by $61 billion over the next seven months, House Republicans claim they are trying to make the economy grow and create jobs. In truth, such deep and sudden cuts could derail the recovery, without ever addressing the real sources of budget deficits — mainly explosive health care costs and incessant high-end tax cuts.
The question is whether the Obama administration and the Senate can prevail against the false rhetoric. ...
In a recent report, economists at Goldman Sachs estimated that the House cuts would reduce economic growth by 1.5 percentage points to 2 percentage points in the second and third quarters of 2011. That would devastate employment. ... [Update: see here for corrections to these numbers.]
The cuts also would be off point. All of them come from discretionary spending, a sliver of the budget... Over the past decade, Pentagon spending has accounted for almost all of the increase in discretionary outlays... Aside from defense, there is not a lot to cut prudently.
Which leads to the strongest argument of all against the House Republican bill — most of the cuts would be counterproductive. Annual spending on education through high school is cut by 12 percent... (since the cuts would be squeezed into the rest of the current budget year, they are even deeper on an annualized basis).
Those cuts include reductions to Head Start that would remove 218,000 children from the program and cuts to elementary education that would hit 2,400 schools and nearly one million students. Pell Grants for college would also be cut by nearly $6 billion. Transportation investments would be cut by 9 percent, or $8.1 billion... Americorps and other community-service programs would be eliminated, although their benefit to society surely exceeds their $1.2 billion cost. Since national service programs are matched by $800 million from foundations and other sources, that would be lost, too. ... Financial regulators would endure deep cuts that would cripple their ability to carry out the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. That’s asking for another financial crisis.
Given the need to placate House Republicans, some cuts are inevitable. Senators can turn to President Obama’s budget for 2012 as a template for cutting while preserving priorities. It’s time for leadership.

    Posted by on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 09:12 AM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (27)


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