From WILL - The Public Square -

Connie Roux on cuts to entitlement programs

My name is Connie Roux. I've lived in Savoy for 11 years.

President Bush recently proposed budget cuts on so-called "entitlements" . These cuts are intended to impose fiscal restraint. But many of these cuts make absolutely no sense to me. Over the long term, it could become even more costly to fix the problems that these cuts create.

AT the same time these cuts are being made in services to the elderly and poor, $900 billion dollars in tax cuts will be given to the wealthiest one percent of income earners, and massive subsidies (welfare, if you will) is being provided to corporations which are making record profits. Under Bush's budget, the deficit would actually increase by $192 billion dollars in only five years. Does that make sense?

Is the President really concerned about the national debt? The United States Senate recently raised the government debt limit to nearly $9 trillion dollars. A trillion dollars is a million dollars a day for a million days. That doesn't sound like fiscal restraint to me!

The President's proposed cuts include $13.7 billion less to the Medicaid Program, including the food stamp program. It is already difficult for Medicaid patients to find doctors to treat them, because the doctors are paid so little for that service. Now fewer will be able to eat nourishing meals. With cuts in child care how can a low income mother be expected to find a job and get off welfare, with no safe place to leave her children?

Education at the college level will be more difficult to achieve because the Perkins Student Loan program will be omitted. Pell Grants are to be cut. At the U of I alone, 39% of students depend on student loans.

Cuts in Medicare will include less money for rehabilitation services, for skilled and unskilled nursing, and to hospice and home health care. More costs will have to be paid , out of pocket by our seniors. And, imagine this; oxygen will only be covered for 13 months. Then what? NONE of this will decrease our National Debt.

Fortunately, our congressman, Representative Tim Johnson has so far voted against budget cuts for vital national services, but the vote will be extremely close. None of this makes sense to me. It is my feeling that in order to have a strong America, in the future, we MUST invest in the education and health of our people. Without a healthy well-educated population, how can we survive?

Thank you.