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Posted on September 30, 2005
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Now is the time for us to begin to make tough choices.”

This is what Mike Pence, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said about finding money in the budget to pay for Katrina’s aftermath. But unfortunately, some of the choices that House Republicans are willing to make might be a little tougher than necessary.

The RSC has reached far and wide to cut America’s favorite New Deal legislation. They have prepared a list of programs and initiatives that if,
God forbid, are cut would hopefully relieve our nation from a menacing debt caused by that horrible hurricane known as Katrina.

We understand that this debt must be paid off and that our nation will have to reduce funds for certain silly things like foreign aid and U.N. peacekeeping funding in order to pay it off. After all, we cannot allow this debt to hang over our heads.

But these are not the only budget cuts noted on this long list of absurd propositions, oh no, the list goes on and on.

The RSC has also suggested that we eliminate state grants for Safe and Drug-Free schools. That’s right, we won’t have this debt to worry about, but we will probably have an increase of drug use in our schools. A small price to pay in the name of debt relief.

Other brilliant ideas include eliminating the Even Start Program and teen funding portion of Title X Family Planning.

Under this plan farm subsidies will be reduced, Medicaid co-payments will be increased and so will Medicare premiums.

Sounds like a great list so far, right? Wait, there’s more including:

•Delaying the Medicare Prescription Drug Program
•Reducing Medicaid administrative spending
•Eliminating subsidized loans for graduate students
•Eliminating loans for reconstruction and development to the European Bank
•Reducing funding for the Global Aids Initiative
•Reducing funding for the Inter-American Foundation
•Reducing funding for the African Development Foundation
•Reducing funding for the Peace Corps
•Reducing USAID Operating Expenses
•Reducing funding for the International Development Association
•Eliminating administration fees to schools
•Eliminating the Leveraging Educational Assistance Program
•Eliminating funding for the National and Community Service Act
•Eliminating school lunches for students who live 3.50 percent above the poverty line
•Eliminating attaché positions in the Foreign Agricultural Service
•Reducing funding for the Department of Education Administration
•Reducing funding for the Agricultural Research Service
•Eliminate the Applied Research for the Renewable Energy Sources Program
•Eliminate the Clean Coal Technology Program
•Eliminate the FreedomCAR Program, which is dedicated to promoting the use of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles
•Eliminate the Research Initiative for Future Agriculture Systems
•Eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative
•Restricting First Responder Grants

Now, we are happy to see that the good folks in Congress took some time out of their busy schedules to review the federal budget—it was no doubt a task of sheer drudgery—but we cannot help but think that this solution is a bit more complicated and taxing than it needs to be. After all, sometimes the simplest solution is the best. And as many opponents of this plan have pointed out, there is an easier solution: Rolling back Bush’s tax cut for the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

It has been pointed out on several occasions that this course of action would more than pay for Katrina’s wake while at the same time saving the programs that RSC has proposed cutting or eliminating.

We know that it is hard for America’s gazillionaires to give up any portion of their hard earned money. However, with the War in Iraq growing increasingly more complicated and the Gulf Coast getting beaten by a wild onslaught of apocalyptic weather, perhaps it is time for Americans to start living by the ethics of the greatest good for the greatest number of people. And it is sufficiently clear that the greatest number of people is served by rolling back the tax cut.

Mr. Pence is right about one thing – the time has come to make a tough decision, perhaps rolling back the tax cut that lines the pockets of our nation’s über-rich is the one to make.