CHN: The President’s Scandalous Budget

On February 6, President Bush released his budget proposal for Fiscal 2007. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) struck a responsive chord when he called the budget “scandalous” for its cuts in education and health care. The budget makes $182 billion in cuts to domestic programs outside homeland security over 5 years, but makes the deficit even deeper by slashing taxes by another $285 billion during the same period.
The President makes major cuts both in entitlements ($36 billion cut from Medicare; $14 billion from Medicaid) and in annually appropriated (a.k.a. “discretionary”) programs.

So-called discretionary programs include defense, education, housing assistance, job training, certain child welfare programs, WIC, and many more services. Cuts in domestic discretionary programs (those outside of defense and homeland security) are scheduled to grow deeper and deeper over the next five years, according to tables not published as part of the President’s multi-volume budget document, but made available to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which has put the 673-page table on its website. **BROKEN LINK** Discretionary cuts are substantial even in Fiscal 2007 – these programs are reduced by $16 billion, or 4 percent in one year, taking inflation into account. But by Fiscal 2011, the inflation-adjusted cuts reach $57 billion, a reduction of 13 percent.

Congress is not likely to endorse the President’s budget as is, but pressures to reduce the deficit will mean that the five-year cuts in this document constitute a road map Congress may be inclined to follow. Countering that inclination is the enormous political pressure exerted by advocates in opposition to this year’s cuts in the budget reconciliation bill. Those advocates are gearing up to continue the fight against cuts in human needs programs, and early press coverage has noted that fresh memories of the Fiscal 2006 battles will make some members of Congress reluctant to support cuts as the 2008 election approaches.

Congressional leadership hope to be ready for floor votes on a new budget resolution during the week of March 13, with differences resolved between the two versions by April 15. The resolution is an outline of spending, with no program-by-program detail. It is highly significant, because it sets totals in broad spending categories that if too low strangle efforts to seek adequate appropriations levels later in the year.

Many organizations have produced early analyses of the President’s budget, including a Coalition on Human Needs 2-page summary. **BROKEN LINK** CHN will soon issue a more detailed analysis, drawing upon its members’ expertise to translate budget numbers into estimates of human impact.

Valuable Budget Analyses:

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:   A Preliminary Analysis **BROKEN LINK**

National Women’s Law Center:   Women and Children Last – Again **BROKEN LINK**

United Way of America:    The Bush Administration’s FY 2007 Budget **BROKEN LINK**

Child Welfare League of America:   FY 2007 Bush Budget and Children **BROKEN LINK**

Center for American Progress:   Setting the Wrong Priorities **BROKEN LINK**

OMB Watch:   Initial Analyses of the President’s 2007 Budget **BROKEN LINK**

National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness: Beyond Line Items and Accounts **BROKEN LINK**

American Friends Service Committee: Quaker Group Warns New Budget Undermines Basic Values **BROKEN LINK**

The Workforce Alliance: Bush Administration Releases FY 2007 Budget **BROKEN LINK**

Policy Analyses and Research