United States: Federal budget brings savage cuts

April 16, 2011

A federal budget containing the largest single-year spending cuts in US history was grudgingly passed by Congress on April 14.

The cuts, amounting to US$38.5 billion, will be implemented until the end of the financial year on September 30, 2011.

President Barack Obama hailed the budget agreement as a victory. He said: “This is an agreement to invest in our country’s future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history.”

Socialistworker.org said on April 13 that by focusing on the partisan Congressional battle over the budget, the corporate media made a glaring omission.

It said: “The media’s coverage of the budget deal largely focused on the feverish negotiations as a shutdown of the government loomed. But the real story here is how the politicians — from both parties — sacrificed the poor in coming to their agreement.”

Washingtonpost.com said on April 12 more than half the spending cuts would target education, labor and health programs.

The article said: “Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services departments, which represent about 28 percent of non-defense discretionary spending, face as much as a combined $19.8 billion, or 52 percent, of the total reductions in the plan.”

Funding cuts are not the most drastic threat confronting essential services and programs. Many programs are facing outright termination.

Washingtonpost.com said: “Republicans were [also] able to terminate more than 55 programs in the areas of health, labor and education, resulting in a total savings of more than $1 billion …

“In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency, long a target of conservatives, will see a $1.6 billion cut, representing a 16 percent decrease from 2010 levels.”

Socialistworker.org documented a further list of programs that have come under attack: “Among the lowlights of the deal are: a $1 billion reduction in programs to prevent HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis; $600 million slashed from community health centers; and a $390 million reduction in contingency funds for heating assistance for low-income people.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon will receive an extra $5 billion for the year, bringing the total defense budget to $708 billion for 2011, National Defense Magazine said.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) said initial budget proposals have been made for fiscal 2012 by all 48 states.

The proposals were released at the end of March 2011.

CBPP said on March 21 that “for the fourth year in a row, these budgets propose deep cuts in education, health care, and other important public services — in many cases, deeper than previous cuts”.

CBPP said: “These cuts will delay the nation’s economic recovery and undermine efforts to create jobs.”

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