After our recent rant on the necessity of supporting the public health and social services infrastructure instead of cutting taxes, President Bush has replied. He is cutting the infrastructure:
President Bush’s $3 trillion budget for next year slashes mental health funding and rural health care and freezes spending on medical research, among the cuts outlined in budget documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The budget for the Department of Health and Human Services would be reduced by almost 3 percent under the Bush budget plan to be released Monday. The $2 billion in HHS cuts are about double the size of the reductions Bush sought last year; the Democrats controlling Congress rejected them.
In his proposed budget, Bush would eliminate a $302 million program that gives grants to children’s hospitals to subsidize medical education. A $300 million program for public health improvement projects would be eliminated, while grants to improve health care in rural areas would be cut by 87 percent.
The Centers for Disease Control’s budget would face a 7 percent reduction of $433 million. The budget for a program to treat and monitor the health of first responders and others exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks would be cut by 77 percent, from $108 million this year to $25 million in 2009. An account for the preparedness, detection and control of infectious diseases would undergo an 18 percent cut.
The National Institutes of Health, which funds health research grants, would see its budget frozen at $29.5 billion.
A program providing grants to help mental health and substance abuse providers update their treatment programs would be cut almost in half. Bush also would eliminate a new $49 million program to help states provide health insurance to people who are ailing and cannot obtain health insurance in the commercial market. (AP)
Who are the winners? Well, “winning” is relative in this budget. The FDA gets a 6% increase. This has to cover both food and drug safety and given the deficiencies won’t go far. Head Start gets a 2% increase, which means it will lose a little in real terms (after inflation). The big winner — drum roll — is a 25% increase in the failed abstinence education program! Jeez.
But heating subsidies for the poor would get slashed over 20% and the program which helps local community agencies for the poor, the Community Services Block Grant program, would get a 100% decrease. Yes, that’s right. He’s zeroing it out.
Let’s put these cuts in perspective. The half billion dollar cut in the heating subsidies for the poor (it’s a good thing the cost of energy hasn’t increased, right?) is lost in the noise of this budget. Three trillion dollars is 3 thousand billion dollars, so that cut is .03% of the budget. For a lot of seniors, though, it’s not noise. It’s a signal that Bush and the Republicans don’t care about them. And of course they don’t.