House GOP Budget Hammers The Special Olympics

Suzy Khimm reports on the latest round of lucky duckies to get the budgetary ax from House Republicans — disabled children:

The House GOP’s budget, which passed last month, takes a hatchet to programs for disabled kids and Special Olympics athletes. The proposed cuts could force the closure of at least one Special Olympics program, which is funded through the Department of Education. Dubbed Project UNIFY, the program serves more than 750,000 students in 43 states and draws from techniques used in Special Olympics training for activities in public schools.

The program includes sports teams that pair disabled athletes with nondisabled athletes; developmental activities for young children with disabilities; and anti-discrimination programs to combat bullying in schools. Special Olympics president and CEO Tim Shriver has said the program is at the forefront of a national movement to fight bias against the disabled and, in a recent interview on MSNBC, he denounced the GOP cuts: “It wasn’t a haircut — it was a guillotine job for the programs for health and education for children with special needs.”

Now of course maybe people like that idea. Over the long term, the only way to meet America’s budgetary commitments to senior citizens is either to raise taxes or else to slash all other programs. And lots of conservatives very sincerely believe that increasing American tax revenues to OECD average levels would somehow cripple economic growth. Others agree with Greg Mankiw that the impact of policy options on human welfare is irrelevant and tax hikes, even if they make people better off, are an immoral imposition on the genetic elite.


But I find that conservatives like to avoid facing up to what their ideas actually imply. Tyler Cowen, for example, says that “[b]alancing the budget within five to ten years with spending cuts alone would be difficult but by no means impossible.” The link takes you to a piece of writing accompanied by a photograph of a smug-looking somewhat overweight middle-aged white man touting the “1 percent solution” to the federal budget. The idea here is that if we completely abstract away from what programmatic cuts would entail, it’s possible, mathematically speaking, to achieve budgetary balance through a series of cumulative one percent cuts in outlays. Which, indeed, it is. Or else you can talk about the kids in the Special Olympics and how it would be immoral to redistribute resources to them from the alleged winners of the genetic lottery.

The good news is that David Koch has plenty of money and is a pretty generous guy, and could easily demonstrate his commitment to liberty to by offering to just pony up the $8.1 million out of pocket as a worthy investment in persuading skeptics that the small government agenda needn’t come at the expense of the most vulnerable.