Earlier today, Paul Waldman got into some specifics about what the Republicans' budget proposal would cut over the rest of this fiscal year. It includes cuts to local police-department programs, FEMA first responders, and community health centers -- all things people like.
Something else people like? Clean water and food that doesn't make you sick. Unfortunately, the mechanisms for ensuring that our water is clean and our food is safe are in danger too. According to the watchdog group Food and Water Watch, the Republican plan would cut almost $1 billion from the State Revolving Funds (or SRFs), through which the federal government runs local water-treatment and sewage plants.
The cuts to the SRF programs account for about 2.6 percent of all cuts agreed to in the CR, but in FY2010 they accounted for only about 0.1 percent of the budget. If Congressional leaders were looking for budget savings, they should have looked elsewhere. If they were aiming to gut the EPA, they moved a step closer to accomplishing their goal today.
It's not just drinking water, of course. Not only would we want food inspections to stay at the level they were last year, but we have a new food-safety bill, passed in the lame-duck session, which would require more funding.
The cuts to food safety, while not as dire, will make it hard for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement recently-passed food safety legislation, with $11 million cut from the FY2011 budget request for the FDA. $10 million has been cut from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) meat and poultry inspection budget, hopefully falling short of the need to furlough inspectors, but putting programs like catfish inspection in jeopardy.
As Paul says, highlighting what these cuts would do is a better message for progressives than saying, "Well, it could have been worse."
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