In a recent visit to Congress to support Planned Parenthood, I stepped into the office of Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, just before the April 8 vote on the budget cuts.
I was given a letter that Rep. Reyes had sent to Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, describing the devastating effects of slashing funds that would not only affect his district in South Texas but nationally. His letter included the number of people affected and the jobs that would be lost:
- Head Start: cut $1 billion, loss to 127,000 children, 14,000 jobs.
- Title IA: cut $693 million, loss of resources for 957,000 high risk-kids, 9,000 jobs.
- Individuals with Disabilities Act: cut $557 million, 324,000 students, 7,000 jobs.
- Job Corp: cut $900 million, 26,000 at risk youth, 7,000 jobs.
- Pell Grants: cut $5.6 billion, grants to 1.5 million college students (update: starting next year)
- Public broadcasting, juvenile justice programs affecting low income and minorities, rural areas and other underserved populations: cut millions of dollars
- Americorps, YouthBuild Senior Volunteer programs: cut millions of dollars more
- Community Health Centers: cut $1 billion
- Title X, affecting women's health, exams and cancer screenings, STD and HIV prevention, and testing, pregnancy diagnosis and counseling, and family planning
- Elimination of WIC, nutrition program helping pregnant women, infants and children: No new applicants accepted now and the program would be cut in 2012.
I applaud the courage of Rep. Reyes for sending his letter and his attempt to clarify the devastating effect such cuts would have on poor, young, and lower income working people.
Listening to stories of individuals recently, I heard mothers who will feed their children sugar water instead of milk and students planning to drop out of college with no plans for the future. There are two-year-old blind children who have learned to read Braille, dress and feed themselves and be active with their canes under formal programs that are being cut down to 30 minutes per week. Cutting programs for the disabled denies a normal future for these children.
Eliminating these programs does not touch the deficit. The deficit has been used as an issue to cut all humane social programs.
This is what has really ballooned the deficit:
- Three wars and 52 bases in Latin America and more around the world.
- The Bush tax cuts and their extension, costing trillions.
- The loopholes allowing huge taxable incomes to be placed offshore by 85 of the largest 100 corporations.
The famed Robin Hood and his men fought to take from the rich to help the poor. Today we see the top 2 percent, the rich capitalist class, enjoying "corporate welfare" by taking from the social programs, and our taxes - Robin Hood in reverse.