GOP Spending Cuts Would Affect Millions Of People

WASHINGTON (AP) — Low-income students may get smaller grants and the newly disabled might have to wait longer for their benefits. And just about every politician is going to get an earful from the local PTA if school aid gets whacked.

Republicans are finding it’s one thing to issue a blanket promise to cut spending, an entirely different matter when you actually take the scissors to $1 of every $6 spent by agencies like the IRS, the FBI, NASA and the National Park Service. Federal layoffs would be unavoidable, the White House warns.

That’s the real-world impact of House Republicans’ campaign promise to cut $100 billion from the budgets of domestic agencies. Next week, they plan to vote on a resolution setting appropriations for the rest of the year at 2008 pre-recession levels in place before President Barack Obama took office.

The vote will be largely symbolic. The actual cuts would have to be made in appropriations bills that would have to clear a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate, where Republicans hold only 47 seats.

The $100 billion promise, contained in the GOP’s “Pledge to America” campaign manifesto, is based on cuts from Obama’s budget recommendations for 2011, but the actual savings in returning to Bush-era levels would be a little less since the government is operating at last year’s slightly lower budget.

Still, compared with 2010 rates and assuming a full year of implementation, Republicans are promising to cut up to $84 billion from nine appropriations bills, cuts that would average 18 percent. Some Republicans, especially in the Senate, may join Democrats in balking when they see their size.

But the House insurgents — backed up by last year’s election mandate — promise they won’t be weak-kneed in fulfilling their drive to shrink the government and wrestle the spiraling national debt under control.

A return to 2008 levels would mean significant cuts for lots of programs favored by Republicans, including an 8 percent cut to NASA, a 16 percent cut for the FBI and a 13 percent cut in the operating budget of the national parks.

There are other political land mines.

Newly elected Republicans in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas are sure to feel major political pressure over big cuts looming for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP, which provides home heating subsidies to the poor. Former Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., who retired last year, orchestrated a doubling of the program’s budget — from $2.5 billion to $5 billion — since 2008.

Obey said it’s going to mean “a lot of people who aren’t able to pay their heating bills are going to have no way to heat their homes — or they’re going to have to decide to eat less or see the doctor less.”

Republicans in Texas, Florida and Alabama — where NASA facilities mean thousands of jobs — are sure to fight against cuts to the space agency. NASA could have to abandon the International Space Station because of the cuts, the White House warns.

Lawmakers in both parties from rural districts are likely to resist what could be an almost 20 percent cut to a program that subsidizes service by smaller airlines to isolated cities and towns like Scottsbluff, Neb., and Burlington, Iowa. Smaller subsidies or tighter rules would probably mean some communities would lose service.

As local school districts cope with budget squeezes, they won’t be able to count on the same amount of help from the federal government. Special education grants to states could be cut by $1.4 billion, or 11 percent, forcing hometown school boards to cut services or make up the difference with local funds.

The Women, Infants and Children program, which provides food for low-income pregnant women, mothers and young children, has near-universal support. But without an exemption from the cuts, 1 million of them could lose benefits next year, according to calculations by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research and advocacy group.

“Cutting the big programs isn’t that hard. It’s the little stuff that everybody fights the hardest about, whether it’s LIHEAP or WIC or all this other stuff,” said Jim Dyer, a former top aide for the House Appropriations Committee. “You’re looking at tremendously popular programs like state water grants, the national parks, cancer research, higher education, food safety — all of this stuff’s got to be on the table.”

Pell Grants for college students from low-income families could be cut by more than $1,000 from the current $5,550 maximum grants. A cutback in housing subsidies would mean that hundreds of thousands of people won’t see their Section 8 vouchers renewed. And a $1 billion, 24 percent cut to the historically underfunded Indian Health Service would reduce critically needed health care in some of the most impoverished places in the country.

Republicans aren’t saying that every account will absorb an 18 percent cut back to 2008 levels. The most popular programs might be cut less; others slashed even more.

Republicans have already imposed a 5 percent cut on lawmakers’ budgets for running their offices on Capitol Hill.

“I hope that federal agencies across the spectrum will follow suit and find ways to cut their own budgets,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. “If not, we’re happy to do it for them.”

The Pentagon, the Homeland Security Department and veterans’ programs were exempted from the cuts when Republicans drew up the promise, but are likely to get a good scrubbing anyway.

“There are no sacred cows,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky.

Cuts to some easy targets, like the National Endowment for the Arts — marked by Republicans when they took over Congress in 1995 — would save relatively little. Its current budget is $168 million; a return to 2008 levels would save just $13 million.

The White House says the promised GOP cuts would fall disproportionately on domestic agencies whose discretionary budgets are passed by Congress each year. They account for only about $1 in $7 spent by the government. Rising Medicare and Medicaid costs are the real drivers of the United States’ long-term deficit woes.

“In terms of the bottom line, we totally agree that there needs to be discipline in discretionary spending, but we shouldn’t for a moment believe that these levels of savings will in and of itself solve the fiscal challenge,” said White House Budget Director Jacob Lew. “The problem is much bigger than the total of nondefense discretionary spending, much less a reduction of it.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Grover

    The real headline should be:

    “Democrat’s Spending Will Effect Everyone”

    • stace34

      The real headlins should be:

      “Republicans cut spending on programs that spend the least rather than making real progress because it is just too hard.”

    • Ignorance must be bliss

      So if Dems are the bad guys here, why is it that the GOPers are saying that they are going to cut spending in programs from 18% to 24% yet they only cut the budget that they get by 5%????? So I am the only person that has ever heard the saying lead by example? I love how stupid people are that this is a Dems GOP fight. When will you ignorant people open your eyes and see that this is a politician problem that crosses both parties and even dives into the liberal or independent sides too. This is exactly why these politicians can do what they have been is because they bank on people being stupid and blaming each other for the political affiliations instead of blaming the people making the laws the way they have been that drive this country into the ground. By all means though, keep the blinders on and keep pointing the fingers at each other and get nothing done because the politicians keep the money when we don’t notice since we are too busy fighting each other.

  • Mises

    “Democrats would love to spend us into the Dark Ages” could be the title to this story.

    Most of the things you listed that will be cut can be operated from a charity/fundraiser type method. You can’t steal money from others and try to prop up some, it doesn’t work. All it does is bring everyone down to the level you are trying to help in the first place.

  • Pete J

    OH!!!! BOOOHOOO!!!! Govt workers would be laid off? Govt workers would get their PAY CUT? Govt workers may have to pay more for benefits? BOOOOHOOO!!! I have dealt with that in the PRIVATE sector for the last THREE years! It ABOUT TIME!
    And for you lefty’s…..I think BOTH sides are to BLAME…..but leave it to the RIGHT to find a way to FIX it!

    • albert

      Just like a typical reflublican, loud and wrong.

      • SHHH & Right

        Just like a Demosnac (I am guessing re”flub”lican was your attempt at a joke?)…..can’t back up their comments?

    • bubba

      You know, there are very effective medications for your condition . . .

  • TMH

    The middle class is slowly but surely being pushed into a poverty cycle that will affect this country as a whole for many years to come. The disabled are being told government cannot help them. Children of poverty stricken parents are given no thought or concern in these decisions to cut services. I don’t like paying more taxes yet I see that there are some things our tax money pays for that would make this country stronger. I am willing to pay for low income student grants so that this country someday will reap the benefits of having less racial disparity. Cutting low income student loans is a step backwards in that regard. What are being cut are nickel and dime services that help the middle and lower class rather than address the real spending issues.

  • Rich

    Go for it. Cut the wasteful and unnecessary programs. Just Do It.

  • Pete J

    OK….I have an idea…..the people that are on UNEMPLOYMENT should work in the positions that will be cut! They WORK in those positions as long as they are on Unemployment or until they find a job! Problem FIXED! Albert….any BETTER ideas!!!!!!! (Is that LOUD enough?)

  • Allah Is Coming To Town

    Stop spending! Stop the nanny state! Welfare is not an American right! For God’s sake….can I even say “God” anymore???

    • dale


  • TMH

    Nearly 10% of this country was laid off due to no fault of their own and that number has not decreased in two years: Wall Street took a gamble that did not pay out causing near 10% unemployment for those who did not cause their own unemployment. Pete, you make it sound like the unemployed caused their unemployed status and that cause was because they don’t want to WORK and therfore should be forced to work somehow rather than leech off of government handouts. I am amazed at how narrow minded our best arguments have become.

    Case in point (in context to this news story:) Federal employees who are responsible and reliable workers today could end up unemployed due to no fault of their own. What they will find once laid off is that folks like Pete will call them lazy government freeloaders who by their very nature of laziness caused their own unemployment and of course Pete won’t pay for that …this country is in a sad state of affairs by shallow minded folks who make a lot of noise.

  • Ruth

    How about if we cut the number of politicians, regardless of party, by the same percentage? And, while we’re at it, cut out welfare programs that cater to newly arrived immigrants, legal or otherwise, as well as refugees. If those people can’t come here with a means of support, they surely don’t need to be sucking money out of our already overstrapped system.

    • dale

      Refugees . . . with a means of support?

      You are nucking futz.

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