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Federal cuts beg question,"What's the Point?"

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor
Hey gang, it's time to play "What's the Point?" the exciting game in which we look at current events and ask, "What's the Point?"
Here's our first issue. The current federal budget would have the following impact on federally funded programs in Massachusetts. Here's what will happen if the House bill passes as it was written (according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center):
  • Head Start, which provides comprehensive early childhood development services for at-risk children ages zero to five, would immediately be cut $17 million, enough to serve roughly 2,200 children.
  • Education for the Disadvantaged programs would lose $16.5 million (including Title I) that are especially focused on the state's 295,000 low-income students.
  • Pell Grants for higher education would lose $83 million.
  • Job training programs and community transition services would lose $26.3 million. Unless new funds are provided later this year, the cut would effectively end services in the coming year for all of the program's 2,600 dislocated workers, 2,400 low-income adults, and 3,900 youths age 14 to 21.
  • All funds for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides grants to low-income homeowners and renters for energy efficiency improvements, would be cut.
  • Federal funds for clean and safe water in Massachusetts would be cut by $57 million.
And that's not all. There are even more cuts that would affect the Bay State.
In fact, those wacky guys at Moody's Analytics published the following by Mark Zandi on its Web site (www.economy.com/dismal/article_free.asp?cid=197630): "The House Republicans' proposal would reduce 2011 real Gross Domestic Product growth by 0.5 percent and 2012 growth by 0.2 percentage points This would mean some 400,000 fewer jobs created by the end of 2011 and 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012."
So, folks "What's the Point?"
Is the House budget creating jobs with this budget? According to the following from the Web site maintained by House Speaker John Boehner, "At his weekly press briefing (Feb. 15), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) highlighted the coming House vote on cutting $100 billion in discretionary spending for the current fiscal year as part of the new majority's focus on creating a better environment for economic growth and private-sector job creation. He said Republicans will continue listening to the American people and cutting spending to liberate our economy from the shackles of big government. These next steps include a budget that, in stark contrast to President Obama's job-crushing FY12 budget, will chart a new path to prosperity and address our fiscal challenges, including entitlement spending."
Really, that's the "point?" So all of the job recovery we've had so far is despite a "job-crushing" budget? And since the Republicans came into power in the House, how many new jobs have been added by legislation they specifically created?
I think the "point" is to cut funding from programs serving the poor and middle class, while preserving those elements of government that help the rich and the corporations.
Is there waste in government? Is there a status quo being preserved? Yes on both sides of the aisle. It's time to look at what works and what doesn't and fund the programs that are helping people to help themselves.
Shouldn't that be the point?
Here's another round of "What's the Point?" What's up with the governor's trade mission to Israel? He did one to China in 2007 and published reports would indicate there weren't many lasting results.
Now, he's in Israel and he's hoping to get some trade deals signed that could result in jobs here. One of the goals to is to get El Al Airlines to starting flying direct from Logan International Airport.
He had to go thousands of miles for that? "What's the Point?"
The point is the governor is meeting with a head of state and acting, if I dare say it — and I will — a tad presidential.
I like Gov. Patrick. He's a smart, charming guy. But, what we need in this state is to cut some of the expenses we impose on businesses to make Massachusetts more competitive and to retain businesses we already have.
For instance, we need a high-speed commuter rail line linking Springfield to Boston so we could develop a greater population out here. That would help our tax base.
Maybe there is an Israeli investor who would work on that with us. Perhaps that's Patrick's point.
But I doubt it.
Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.
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