Conservatives opposed to the Democratic economic recovery package have been voicing their complaints by calling out individual programs they believe to be wasteful. For example, last month on the House bill, conservatives specifically targeted funding for comprehensive family planning services and STD prevention. Unfortunately, in an effort to compromise, President Obama called for both of those provisions to be cut from the legislation.
Today, various progressive blogs released a list of items that so-called “centrist” Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) have proposed cutting from the economic recovery package. Many of these cuts, however, would disproportionately affect women and children — similar to the cuts to the House bill. Some highlights:
— $150 million cut to the Violence Against Women Act
— $50 million to the Victims of Crime Act
— $25 million to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces
— $1.1 billion to Head Start
— $50 million to Teacher Quality Partnership Grants
— $5.2 billion for Prevention And Wellness (including diabetes screening and HIV testing)
— $13.9 billion for Pell Grants
— $2 billion for Child Care Development Block Grants
Over on the Wonk Room, Pat Garofalo notes why these cuts are so troubling:
For Nelson, who has a personal net worth about $10 million, this is also a case of kicking Main Street while its down, as the proposed cuts are in areas like health care, education, and aid to the states. Adding insult to injury, Collins and Nelson are nitpicking important stimulus funding that would benefit working Americans and their children, after they voted for giving $700 billion to Wall St. with no oversight.
In particular, health care provisions not only disproportionately boost women and children, but also minorities. After all, preventive health care spending is stimulative; it creates jobs and saves the country expensive long-term medical costs.
President Obama put it best today when he criticized all the people who are calling anything besides tax cuts “pork”: “So when you hear these attacks deriding something of such obvious importance as this, you have to ask yourself, ‘Are these folks serious?'”