House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) last week released the House Republicans first round of proposed budget cuts, laying out about $32 billion in overall cuts, but without naming any specific program reductions. Ryan has been justifying his refusal to name a specific program that he’d cut from the budget by punting to the Appropriations Committee. “[Naming specifics] is what is gonna happen in the appropriations process down the road. So I can’t tell you the answer to that because, as a budget committee person, we simply lower the cap and then those things go down,” Ryan said.
Today, the Appropriations Committee — chaired by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) — released the specific cuts that House Republicans are proposing to get below Ryan’s cap. Of course, the cuts consist of reductions to common GOP bogeymen like the National Endowment for the Arts and Amtrak. But the House Republicans have a preoccupation with cutting programs that affect women and their babies. For instance, the GOP proposed:
– Cutting $758 million from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which amounts to about a 6 percent cut to a program providing food assistance to low-income women and their infants.
– Cutting $210 million from Maternal and Child Health Block Grants, which amounts to about a 33 percent cut in a program giving low-income pregnant women, mothers and their children access to health care.
– Cutting $27 million from the Poison Control Center, which would essentially eliminate a program supporting local poison control centers and funding a hotline directing residents to their local poison control office. Poisoning disproportionately affects children, with half the exposures at the National Poison Control Center last year occurring to children younger than six.
The House Republicans second-largest cut is to community health centers ($1.1 billion). In 2008, about one-third of community health center patients were children.
In the grand scheme of deficit reduction, these cuts will do absolutely nothing, but they will have extremely detrimental effects for those who depend upon the targeted programs. This shows the folly of the GOP’s approach to budgeting, which leaves huge parts of the federal budget immune to cuts (like the Pentagon), while taking an axe to non-defense discretionary spending. These cuts outlined above total about $1 billion, while simply retiring (and not replacing) one carrier battle group and its aircraft wing would save $1.5 billion.
“Make no mistake, these cuts are not low-hanging fruit,” Rogers said in the statement. “These cuts are real and will impact every District across the country — including my own.” While they may impact every district, they certainly don’t spread the pain equally.
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.