Thursday, February 09, 2006

Why the hell is the website link to this story so g-ddamned long???

A 2.7 trillion dollar budget for 2007 to be unveiled by the George W. Bush administration reportedly curbs core social programs while beefing up US defense spending by five percent.(AFP/File/Jim Watson)

Yahoo! News

White House Details 141 Programs to Cut

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer Thu Feb 9, 5:23 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Grants for safe and drug-free schools, vocational education and reading programs for jailed young people are among 141 federal programs President Bush wants to eliminate or cut significantly.

Bush has proposed axing most of them before, only to see Congress save them. The Office of Management and Budget released the new list Thursday.

Many of the programs proposed for elimination have an emotional pull, like one providing $107 million for food for the elderly poor.

Others are pretty arcane, like one giving the Postal Service $29 million to pay it back for the generous subsidies it once provided to nonprofit mailers.

And how many Americans know there is a $9 million "Exchanges With Historic Whaling and Trading Partners" program, which gives money to museums, aquariums and heritage centers in Alaska, Hawaii and Massachusetts?

Killing or cutting these and scores more would save taxpayers almost $15 billion, the White House estimates.

In issuing the list, Bush wants to build upon the success he had last year in killing or cutting 89 programs saving $6.5 billion. He's also hoping to take advantage of efforts on Capitol Hill to rein in lawmakers' abuse of "earmarks," special projects wanted by individual lawmakers.

But most of this year's proposed cuts were rejected by lawmakers last year and likely will be again. Of 91 programs slated to be killed altogether, to save $7.3 billion, only about one in six are new proposals.

The programs slated for elimination are congressional favorites funded through annual appropriations bills. They include $3.5 billion from the Department of Education, including grants for safe and drug free schools and vocational education grants.

Another 50 programs are slated for large cuts but not outright elimination, for savings of $7.4 billion. They include $394 million from Amtrak subsidies, $694 million from Department of Homeland Security grants and training programs and
an almost 25 percent cut from construction funding for Indian Schools.

The Office of Management and Budget said the programs on its ambitious list are those "not getting results or not fulfilling essential priorities."

The hit list is part of an annual clash with lawmakers over Congress' penchant for grant programs and parochial hometown projects.

Lawmakers like to direct funds to specific purposes such as vocational job training, scholarships devoted to math and science and several different types of grants to local law enforcement agencies.

The White House doesn't like being hemmed in by congressional directives and in many instances wants to merge programs for related purposes into a single program with more flexibility for the administration to implement.

After meeting with little success in its initial attempt to kill of congressional favorites such as construction grants for local hospitals and health clinics, the administration had much more success in the budget year just completed.

By its count, the White House succeeded in killing or weeding funds from 89 out of 154 programs proposed for cuts.

"That's a .578 batting average, which in this league isn't just good, it's terrific, particularly given the batting averages from previous years," OMB Director Joshua Bolten told the House Budget Committee Wednesday.

Congress reacted with a shrug to the White House document.

"Oldies but goodies," quipped House Appropriations Committee spokesman John Scofield, who said "it's going to be a very lean year and everything is on the table."

The list is studded with cuts that Congress has rebelled against in the past, including those to:

• Amtrak. The money-losing national passenger railroad is slated to absorb a $394 million cut in its subsidies, about 30 percent. That's less than last year's proposal, which was designed to drive Amtrak into bankruptcy and was resoundingly rejected by lawmakers.

• Law enforcement grants. Lawmakers and local police departments love grant programs like the Byrne grants program to direct federal funds to local law enforcement agencies. Bush proposes eliminating several Justice Department grant programs, saving $1.1 billion, including one that gives aid to states with imprisoned criminal aliens. Last year, Congress restored funding for such programs, but at less than two-thirds of prior levels.

• Community Services Block Grant. Bush proposes eliminating $630 million in grants for local social services agencies and community action centers to provide poor people with employment, housing, food and health care. A comparable plan was rejected last year.

• Agricultural research. The administration proposes to cut $196 million in local grants for agricultural research, including research into asparagus and goatgrass control.

Programs newly put on the chopping block in this year's plan include:

• Food aid. The plan would eliminate the $107 million Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides the monthly food packages to low-income seniors. The White House says it overlaps other programs such as food stamps, though advocates for the poor say the food deliveries help seniors with limited mobility or who live in isolated areas.

• Energy research. The administration seeks to kill $64 million for research into technologies to reduce the cost of oil and gas exploration, arguing that oil companies can easily afford to pay for it.


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