Moral Outrage
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Quality of Life under the Obama Republican debt deal

Polluted water, smoggy skies, crumbling bridges, less education funding, more unhealthy Americans: the impact of the debt deal’s massive cuts.

The Obama-GOP plan cuts $917 billion in government spending over the next decade. Nearly $570 billion of that would come from what’s called “non-defense discretionary spending.”

That’s budget-speak for education and job training, air traffic control, health research, border security, physical infrastructure, environmental and consumer protection, child care, nutrition, law enforcement, and more. The White House’s plan would slash this type of spending nearly in half.

Ben Schreiber, a tax analyst with Friends of the Earth, a national environmental advocacy group, says the Obama-GOP debt ceiling deal could also drive a stake through the heart of investments in wind, solar, and other clean energy technologies. At the same time, he says, corporate subsidies for oil and gas companies, worth an estimated $30 billion over ten years, are untouched in the latest debt ceiling proposal. “Polluters are getting off scot-free,” he says. “We’re basically turning the environment over to the industry.”

Jobs programs could also go under the knife, at a time when already 14 million Americans are out of work.
When it comes to public funding for education, the picture is more mixed. The White House’s proposal protects Pell grants for low-income college students, a big victory for education advocates. Funding for K-12 public schools, Head Start, special education, and more are vulnerable.

An array of social safety net programs—the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, food stamps, housing assistance for low-income individuals, foster care money, and basic income security programs—could lose funding under the debt ceiling plan. So, too, could critical infrastructure investments in better bridges, roads, and rail transportation.

Nor is this the final round of cuts. In the end, non-defense discretionary spending could see billions more in cuts on top of the initial $570 billion. Social Security and Medicaid would be protected from deep cuts, but Medicare could be cut by hundreds of billions of dollars if, for instance, the committee decides to raise the eligibility age for the program.

“It’s going to suck a good deal of demand out of the economy,” says Ethan Pollack, a senior policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. “It’s going to be devastating.”

[Excerpts of Mother Jones article by Andy Kroll]


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