Monday, January 2


Who benefits from the new Congressional budget bill? Well, certainly not the neediest among us. However, Republican Congressmen hope to placate their wavering supporters by showing that they've been doing something about spending. How will they do it? By cutting pennies from programs designed to aid students and their families, the elderly and the sickly poor. Of course, they'll balance that cut in spending with more tax cuts for the rich.

As it turned out, a full one-third of the $39.7 billion lopped off the federal budget in the lawmakers' pre-Christmas rush will be realized in reduced college aid and higher interest rates on student loans.

As painful as the cuts in educational assistance may be to middle-class students and parents, two-thirds of the cuts target the least fortunate among us - the elderly and poor who have medical problems.

For example, Medicaid recipients who now pay a $3 co-payment for a range of health-care services will find themselves charged $20 to $100. Medicare recipients - everyone over 65 - will see cuts in home health services, the aid that helps many elderly stay out of nursing homes.

Cash-strapped states like Ohio and Michigan will be required to institute strict new work requirements for welfare recipients, or face the loss of badly needed federal aid.

These are the priorities of Congress' Republican majority. They call it reform. We call it a gratuitous attack on people least likely to be able to protect themselves.

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