The Obama administration projects a $1.5 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2012, which starts in October of this year, so there is little doubt that the federal government needs to do some slimming down. This effort, however, requires intelligence, precision, and care. Even the largest of tumors are excised with scalpels, not hatchets.
Unfortunately, that logic seems to have escaped Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives. Last week, they passed $63 billion in budget cuts for the remainder of FY 2011—and no doubt will follow with similar cuts in FY 2012. That number may seem small relative to the overall budget—and indeed, it is—but the danger of those cuts lies in their concentration.
All savings are derived from cuts to “non-security discretionary spending,” which represents a majority of federal agencies but only a sliver of the budget. Further, the proposed cuts are advocated with little regard to their targets—no distinction is made between effective programs and failing programs, or programs that are vital to Americans and programs that can be done without.
The costs of such a blunt approach far outweigh the potential savings, and even worse, a disproportionate burden of those costs will be placed on the shoulders of our nation’s low-income, working-class, and minority citizens. Five groups most likely to be harmed by the Republicans’ proposal are:
- Low-income families
- Communities of color
- College students
- Rural communities
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