As Budget Wars Continue, Congress Passes Temporary Spending Plan
Monday, March 21st, 2011
The two parties have presented staunchly different budget proposals: the Democrats want to cut spending by only $6 billion, Republicans have proposed cutting a staggering $61 billion. The GOP feels such cuts are necessary to control the growing deficit--expected to hit $1.6 trillion this year.
In the Republican proposal, the popular Pell Grant Program would face a $5.8 billion cut. The program helps approximately 8.8 million low -income students obtain post-secondary degrees. The GOP plan would reduce that number by 1.7 million and decrease the maximum grant of $5500 by $800. This is the largest single decrease in the Pell Grant Program’s history.
Even Republicans who have traditionally supported the Pell Grant Program feel the cuts are necessary. Representative Tom Petri (R-WI), a long standing supporter of the program, said he voted for the cuts because he was worried about the nation’s financial crisis.
"It's true, I have been and am a supporter of the Pell Grant program," said Petri to the Herald Times Reporter in March. "But it's also true I've been concerned about the overreach and expanding scope of the program."
Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) echoed this idea, saying that GOP cuts will benefit Americans in the long run.
“We are on the side of the children and trying to save them from this debt,” he said in an interview with Freedom Watch.According to Gohmert, the Democrats’ proposed budget cuts of $6 billion would only increase taxes and debt for the people.
“Democrats are going to have to do a lot better than this if we stand a chance of getting our nation's fiscal house in order," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (KY) earlier this month. "Frankly, it's embarrassing."
This response reflected the GOP’s attitude to the Democrats’ proposal.
In his news conference on March 11, President Obama emphasized the need for a compromise on “prudent” budget cuts, but he also remained firm on the issue of Pell Grants.
“The notion that we would cut, for example, Pell Grants when we know the single most important thing to our success as a nation long-term is how well-educated our kids are… that makes no sense.”
But the GOP is still strongly determined to get their $61 billion budget cut, even if it leads to a government shutdown.
"Nobody wants a government shutdown, but unless we take a stand, we will shut down the future for our children and grandchildren," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana.
Pence was one of the 54 Republicans who voted against the continuing resolution on March 15.
President Obama, however, said that both parties must come to a compromise.
“The government can’t keep running on two week resolutions,” he said.
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