This Compromise Doesn't Seem Like Victory: Politics Has Real-World Effects

There's been a lot of back-and-forth in the Democratic bloggysphere about whether the budget deal is a good or a bad deal. While the political maneuvering, framing of issues, and so on matters--matters greatly--the discussion seems to have ignored the actual consequences of many of the stated budget cuts. And macroeconomic effects are important too, but many programs actually do important, critical stuff. Think Progress gives us some examples:

Here are just some of the cuts included in the deal, which should be voted on by the end of the week:

- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC): $504 million

- State and local law enforcement: $415 million

- Community oriented policing services (COPS): $296 million

- Green jobs innovation fund: $40 million

- Community health centers: $600 million

- Dislocated worker assistance: $125 million

- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA): $45 million

- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): $49 million

- IDEA (special education): $16 million

- Infectious disease prevention: $277 million

- National Institutes of Health: $260 million

The deal also flat-funded the Pell Grant program, paying for increased enrollment by eliminating the provision allowing students to use a second grant for summer study.

I'm supposed to be happy about this? I should feel like this is a victory?

Infectious disease prevention? Special education? These things really matter. And regarding dislocated worker assistance, this is what we're really talking about:

Here's the effect of the decision regarding career centers: In a struggling economy especially, people who have been laid off come to a career center to get help searching for jobs. That may not sound like much of a service to the educated classes, but let me tell you, people come into our career center every day and they don't have an e-mail address or a computer at home. The major employers are all moving to online-only application systems. So you have to get an e-mail address, find jobs online, register with an employer's application system, and troubleshoot problems along the way. Password rules are an absolute mystery to the digitally illiterate. In some states, like mine, posting a resume online is a condition of receiving unemployment benefits. Many people who are jobless for the first time in 20 years don't know how to upload a resume and can't receive unemployment until they do.

Every day, my staff and volunteers -- we use volunteers because we don't have enough funding to hire adequate staff -- watch desperate people, sitting at computers completely baffled, asking, "Can't I just apply for a job?"

Meanwhile, defense spending will increase, the SEC and FTC, two regulatory agencies that don't like to regulate, will get more money. And Race to the Top, Obama's educational program that he doesn't want inflicted on his own daughters, will also see a boost in funding.

Fucking groovy.

Please don't bring that, "circumstances only allow..." bullshit either. Because Obama has whacked the needy, even without prompting, pretty damn hard. If we don't push him, he won't help us. We need to think transactionally here, as he has shown little concern for the needs of the Democratic rank-and-file.

Anger is the appropriate emotion.

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Well there are other costs you've ignored.

How much debt is being left for the next generation as a result of the overspending going on?

Do you think they will welcome your legacy?

"Do you think they will welcome your legacy?"

If they die from malnutrition, how will they get it?

Wow said it better than I could.

By Constance Reader (not verified) on 15 Apr 2011 #permalink

At least they didn't cut the budget for faith-based initiatives.

sarcasm off.

@Nick

How much debt does the government ever have to pay back? Ever?
None. The national debt isn't a mortgage. The bonds come due, we just roll them over. If markets won't buy, we have a magical infinite supply of cash, and we can always tax it right back if we choose. No worries.

Meanwhile, yes, I think my theoretical children and grandchildren would welcome a legacy of a country with booming employment, support for those who need it, modern trains and infrastructure, and sustainable sources of energy. But maybe that's just because I think my children would want to live in the future, instead of in the 1880s.

By Tiercelet (not verified) on 15 Apr 2011 #permalink

OMG. The thought of designing a government that encourages self-determination and individual responsibility is terrifying. What will come of us when people in need have to turn to their family, friends and neighbors for help? How many will die when those closest to them refuse to give, believing they are capable of providing for themselves? This is no path for a free country to take!

By Rick Stiles (not verified) on 16 Apr 2011 #permalink