[Hpn] BUSH BUDGET CUTS AFFECT ALL POOR PERSONS~Off Topic?

William C. Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 6 Feb 2005 08:41:30 -0500


Feb 6, 2005

AP: Bush Budget to Call for Spending Cuts

By ALAN FRAM
Associated Press Writer


WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's budget will propose slashing grants to
local law enforcement agencies and cutting spending for environmental
protection, American Indian schools and home-heating aid for the poor, The
Associated Press learned Saturday.
Bush molded the roughly $2.5 trillion spending plan for 2006 as a response
to a string of record federal deficits, and is sends it to Congress on
Monday.
The budget, the toughest he has written since entering the White House four
years ago, seeks about half the increase for school districts in low-income
communities he requested last year and a slight reduction for the National
Park Service.
Many proposals face an unclear fate in Congress, where members of both
parties are sure to defend favorite initiatives. Democrats blame the cuts on
the tax reductions Bush has enacted and say that other items his budget
omits - a Social Security overhaul and costs for wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan - will only make matters worse.

"What it will lead to is growing pressure for draconian cuts," Sen. Kent
Conrad of North Dakota, the Senate Budget Committee's top Democrat, said
Saturday. "It's inescapable, the course he's led us on, whether it's this
year or next year, is for very, very heavy cuts."
Bush has said his budget will assemble federal resources for war, domestic
security and other priorities and cull inefficient or redundant programs.
Administration officials have said he will hold overall nondefense
spending - excepting domestic security - to less than next year's expected
2.3 percent increase in inflation, meaning the programs will lose purchasing
power.
"I stand with the president that we need to eliminate wasteful spending and
we need to look through all the programs," said House Budget Committee
Chairman Jim Nussle, R-Iowa. "There's no question that's not the easiest
thing to do in Washington."
The details obtained Saturday are the latest in a budget that will also seek
savings from programs ranging from Amtrak and farmers' subsidies to
Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor and disabled.
According to figures obtained by the AP, Bush would slice a $600 million
grant program for local police agencies to $60 million next year. Grants to
local firefighters, for which Congress provided $715 million this year,
would fall to $500 million.
He would eliminate the $300 million the government gives to states for
incarcerating illegal aliens who commit crimes. It's a proposal he has made
in the past and one that Congress has ignored. Also gone would be assistance
for police departments to improve technology and their ability to
communicate with other agencies.
The Environmental Protection Agency's $8.1 billion would drop by $450
million, or about 6 percent, with most of the reductions coming in water
programs and projects won by lawmakers for their home districts.
The Bureau of Indians Affairs would be sliced by $100 million to $2.2
billion. The reduction would come almost entirely from the agency's effort
to build more schools.
The $2.2 billion program that provides low-income people - in large part the
elderly - with home-heating aid would be cut to $2 billion. Sen. Charles
Schumer, D-N.Y., said the reduction would be "wrong-headed an
inappropriate," especially with this season's jump in oil prices. White
House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton said Bush has added hundreds of
millions of dollars to the program since taking office and said his budget
will provide "adequate resources to make sure we can assist low-income
Americans."
The park service's budget would drop nearly 3 percent to $2.2 billion,
largely due to a reduction in its construction account.
Several cultural agencies will get about the same as this year's levels,
including the Smithsonian Institution and the national endowments for the
arts and humanities, which distribute money to local groups.
Even on the plus side, Bush's budget will show constraint compared with
previous years. That in part reflects his pledge to cut last year's
projected $521 billion in half by 2009. One lawmaker said the budget will
estimate that year's shortfall at about $230 billion - well under the record
$427 billion it will project for 2005.
Bush will seek about 5 percent more, or about $600 million, for the $12.8
billion program for low-income area school districts. Last year, he
requested a $1 billion increase.
Defense Department documents obtained Friday show the Pentagon's budget
would grow by 4.8 percent to $419.3 billion - $3.4 billion less than he
planned to seek for 2006 a year ago.
Other areas would fare better.
The Coast Guard - now part of the Homeland Security Department - will get
$8.1 billion, $600 million over this year. Included will be a healthy
increase for its plans to buy more oceangoing vessels, a boon to the new
chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.,
in whose state many of the ships are built.
Community health centers would grow to over $2 billion, an increase of $304
million, or almost 18 percent, over this year. Bush said he wants to every
poor county to have one of the centers, which are used heavily by the poor.

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