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Friday's Budget Deal

A government shutdown was avoided late last Friday when a budget deal in principle was reached between the White House and Congressional leaders.  Now staffers are working out the details on a plan that will cut almost $39 billion in federal spending (much of it from domestic programs) in the remainder of this fiscal year.  Democrats claim that Head Start and Pell grants were spared from the proposed cuts, but Republicans say the programs’ funding is still up for grabs. Transportation, foreign aid and parts of the new health care law will sustain multi-billion-dollar cuts under the deal.

The Democrats’ biggest successes were maintaining funding of women’s health services provided through Planned Parenthood and fighting off an attempt to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act.  Meanwhile, Republicans obtained more spending cuts then they originally sought.  Also, D.C. home rule suffered, as a regulation forbidding the city from using its own money to fund poor women’s reproductive health survives was reinstated and a public-school-threatening voucher program was established. Congressional votes on the deal are expected midweek.

2012 Budget Debate

With the 2011 budget debate in the final stages, the focus now turns to the budget for 2012.  House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a 2012 budget proposal last week that is, to put it mildly, extreme.  In its analysis, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) notes that the Ryan budget would increase poverty in the pursuit of deficit reduction.  His proposal calls for two-thirds of all savings to come from programs that serve the poor and middle class, and delivers over $4 trillion in tax breaks to upper income families.

CBPP founder Robert Greenstein warned at a briefing on the Ryan budget last week that the opening gambit in what is essentially an attempt to repeal a century of social progress might be an innocuous-sounding bill to limit federal spending as a percentage of the nation’s economy.  The percentage being proposed would eventually necessitate all the eviscerating Ryan cuts.

The Mother of All Budget Battles - The Debt Ceiling

Congress has less than 5 weeks to raise the debt ceiling or be forced to cut the budget by 40% immediately.  (Not to mention potentially instigating a worldwide financial crisis by throwing into question the solvency of the U.S. government.)  Ironically, most Republicans are against raising the ceiling, but are also against implementing the new health care law that would help curb the root of the problem -- the cost of health care services.

Noteworthy

  • Bob Lucore's latest ADA blog argues that a debate on our real economic needs has been obscured by the government shutdown scare.  Read it here!
  • Long-time ADA member Edie Wilkie passed away last week.  She was a peace promoter and arms control activist, former congressional staff member and wife of retired California Representative Don Edwards.  She will be missed.
  • ADA National Director Michael J. Wilson discussed the 2010 ADA Congressional Voting Record on the The Union Edge Talk radio.  Listen here.

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