You may have heard, President Bush is trying to bolster his sagging poll numbers by throwing money at the Gulf Coast — or rather, throwing money at politically connected contributors in the Gulf Coast while cutting wages for the poor saps who work there.
$200 billion. How are we going to pay for that? Well, Think Progress points out that you could get most of it from rolling back the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the rich.
Ha ha ha ha ha!
No, seriously, we have to "cut unnecessary spending." And the House Republicans are ready, with their "Operation Offset," a list of cuts (PDF) they say could squeeze $500 billion in 10 years out of the federal budget.
Unsurprisingly, the cuts impose pain almost exclusively on programs meant to help the environment and the less fortunate. Here are a few of the cuts:
- Eliminate the EnergyStar program;
- eliminate state and community grants for energy conservation;
- eliminate National Parks Heritage Areas;
- reduce Amtrak subsidies (how come they never call highway spending "subsidies"?);
- eliminate the high-speed rail and light-rail programs;
- reduce fish and wildlife habitat construction;
- reduce Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management;
- eliminate the Applied Research for Renewable Energy Sources program;
- eliminate the FreedomCar program; and
- eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative.
Note that, as Brad Plumer points out, almost every federal program to encourage clean energy is cut, while the energy bill’s recent billions in subsidies to oil and gas companies remain untouched.
There are more — these are just the most salient environmental cuts. Some 30% of the cuts come from Medicaid. Others would eliminate a variety of foreign aid programs. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be de-funded, along with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Many of the cuts are trivial in terms of the money they save. It’s just a chance for House Republicans to take out some of their longtime enemies. It’s really a stunning look into their priorities.
If you want to avoid cuts like this, get on the phone with your Congressional representatives.
(There are many, many blogs writing about this. Read around.)
(See also E.J. Dionne on the subject.)