As lawmakers in Washington, D.C., rev their engines at the starting line of yet another high-stakes game of budgetary chicken, several of California’s Democratic congressmembers took to the phones this week to fill in the dots on what exactly the GOP’s current $60 billion worth of federal spending cuts proposal would look like when applied here in the Golden State. “There is no doubt people will be laid off and programs shut down,” explained Rep. Lois Capps during the unique phone-in press conference Thursday morning. “Add this to the massive cuts at the state level and this is going to be such a double whammy for us,” she said.
Joined in the teleconference by representatives Zoe Lofgren, Sam Farr, Mike Thompson, John Garamendi, George Miller, Linda Sanchez, and Lucille Roybal-Allard, Capps and her peers painted a rather bleak picture of what the officially titled Continuing Resolution (HR 1) would mean should it become a reality. Described by Napa’s Mike Thompson as the equivalent of looking “to lose weight by cutting off your legs,” the Republican-promoted plan — which is currently working its way out of the House of Representatives and headed to the Senate later this month — would viciously and immediately hack away at mostly domestic federal spending that, to hear critics tell it, would unfairly target middle- and low-income families.
Designed to cap expenditures at last year’s levels, the bill would essentially leave the feds with a roughly $1 trillion billfold to make it through to the end of this fiscal year (September 30) while taking money away from: transportation (good-bye high-speed rail in California); water resource projects (California’s Delta project would face potential shutdown via a series of proposed cuts to various related research efforts); the National Endowment for the Arts (things like PBS and NPR are once again on the brink of being cut into nothingness); heating subsidies for low-income households; community health care programs like Planned Parenthood and Family Planning ($1.2 billion worth of community health care cuts, to be exact); the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (marine sanctuaries, such as the Channel Islands, stand to be particularly hard hit); the National Science Foundation’s various research projects (a more than 50 percent reduction in funding is proposed); funding for the new health-care reform bill; and crucial low-income education offerings via Title 1. “This is going to equal serious, serious job loss,” testified Walnut Creek’s John Garamendi. “It is a whole lot of craziness, really.”
The bill comes as the feds try to reconcile a rampaging spending deficit and newly elected Republican and Tea Party representatives aim to deliver on campaign promises of spending cuts. However, with both the White House and the Democrat-led Senate on the record as being opposed to the current budget proposal, the stage seems particularly pregnant with the possibility for an outright government shutdown when the current stop-gap spending measure expires on March 4 — an anything but ideal side-effect of gridlock between Republican and Democrat lawmakers. Such partisan warfare has not led to a shutdown since 1995 when the GOP took on the Clinton administration in a similar budget wrestling match.