DeMint’s Cuts: A Recipe For Unemployment And Hardship

A Visit to the Food Stamps Office, Recession, Washington State Department of Health and Social Services, Ballard, Seattle, Washington, USA

"A Visit to the Food Stamps Office, Recession, Washington State Department of Health and Social Services, Ballard, Seattle, Washington, USA." Flickr photo By Wonderlane. Reproduced under Creative Commons License.


Washington Post author Joe Davidson reports on a paper by Federally Employed Women on the work that is actually done by federal employees on which people depend every day.  It is just this sort of work that you may not miss until it is gone.

DeMint and the anti-political, pro-business politicians in Congress say they will slash government spending and claim that they will do it without cutting Medicaid, Social Security or the Pentagon budget.  DeMint’s promises are misleading on Medicaid and Social Security (he aims to privatize them)  and he never addresses military spending.

Consider the thousands of effective services and jobs that would be lost under DeMint’s proposals:

Here’s how federal employees affect the life of FEW’s average working mother during just one hour of her day:

June 29, 2009 Launch of GOES-O weather satellite

June 29, 2009 Launch of GOES-O weather satellite. Flickr photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video. Reproduced under Creative Commons License.

“11:00 a.m. Equal employment. My fellow workers and I work as a team allowing us to succeed. This is because workers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforce federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. The Office of Disability Employment Policy works toward a world where people with disabilities have unlimited employment opportunities. The Department of Justice enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act to help provide access from design standards for buildings to mediation. Without these people, several of my co-workers would be unable to work or would not be hired, and I would miss their valuable input.

“11:30 a.m. Weather reports. I check the weather reports. NOAA’s [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's] National Weather Service and Global Systems Division employees do the best job possible in trying to predict the weather to allow us all to adequately prepare for adverse circumstances.

“[Noon]. Health care. I grab a quick lunch and stop to visit my friend in the hospital. We thank the experts at the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] who help ensure that her medications are safe and those at the Department of Health and Human Services who help oversee our health care laws. Helping to relieve my friend’s stress about paying for her medical care are the Health Care Financing Administration workers who make sure Medicare and Medicaid are run efficiently.”

DeMint pretends to never considers the savings these services give to the average person.   It is just these services that will be impacted or eliminated by the proposed cuts. South Carolina alone has over 60,000 federal workers, including 30,000 retirees, all contributing to the community. There is no scenario where the the loss of these jobs would be offset by eliminating, for example, the Food and Drug Administration.

This despite the fact that no analysis can show that even eliminating these programs would reduce the budget deficit.   These ‘discretionary’ programs  do not form a very large portion of the overall federal budget.   And they are highly cost effective.  Adding to the nation’s unemployed, cutting food safety inspections, and reducing education is only going to hurt the country.

Chart shows funds authorized to be spent each fiscal year.

NYT Graph: "Obama’s 2011 Budget Proposal: How It’s Spent Rectangles in the chart are sized according to the amount of spending for that category. Color shows the change in spending from 2010."

The growth in the budget deficit comes from military spending (up 75% since 2000 to $533.7 billion in FY2010) , health care spending (from $460.7 billion in 2000 to 891.2 billion in 2008), and special Bush/Obama spending to stimulate the depressed economy (nearly $800 billion in tax cuts and spending).   Unfortunately, President Obama shares the Washington habit of ignoring the largest parts of the federal budget.   His proposed five-year freeze on “non-military discretionary spending” would target the same daily services as DeMint.

Anyone can question government spending.  They’re just looking at the problem in a completely backward fashion: without addressing ending the wars, you’ll never get military spending under control; without cost containment, you’ll never manage health care costs; without considering how to maintain the services that people actually use, then you’re not really looking out for people. In this as in all other things, DeMint has an ideological commitment first, then lets other usually poorer people worry about the consequences.

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