Everyone is still trying to get a handle on what got cut from the stimulus bill as a small group of centrist senators worked toward the compromise bill that will likely be voted on this evening. CNN has a pretty good list supplied by a Democratic staffer, but while some of it is specific (“$1 billion for Head Start/Early Start,” “$200 million for National Science Foundation”), some of it is laughably not so (“$100 million for science”). What is clear is that emergency funding for states that are seeing looming budget crises got cut big time, a development that Paul Krugman calls “really, really bad.” Krugman estimates that the Senate compromise bill will create 600,000 fewer jobs than the House version. Firedoglake runs the numbers and comes up with their own estimate here. Ryan Grim, writing in the Huffington Post, checks win with a bunch of economists and figures out why the danger of not spending enough is far, far greater than the danger of spending too much.
As for that cut in state funding, I want to make sure everyone knows what it means in concrete terms. Here is the LA Times:
They have plundered reserves, enacted hiring freezes and engaged in all manner of budgetary voodoo to shield us from the pain.
But now state governments — reeling from a historic free fall in tax revenue — have run out of tricks. And Americans are about to feel it.
In some cases, they already have.
Nevada resident Margaret Frye-Jackman, 71, was diagnosed in August with ovarian cancer. She had two rounds of chemotherapy at University Medical Center, the only public hospital in the Las Vegas area.
Soon after, she and her daughter heard the news on TV: The hospital’s outpatient oncology services were closing because of state Medicaid cuts. Treatment for Frye-Jackman and hundreds of other cancer patients was eliminated.
Luckily, Frye-Jackman’s gynecological oncologist, Dr. Nick Spirtos, decided to open a tiny chemotherapy center in his office’s empty storage room.
Today, he treats Frye-Jackman there, along with about 20 more cancer patients who were dumped by the hospital. Frye-Jackman’s care is paid for with Medicare and supplemental insurance, but other patients can’t cover the cost of full treatment. The doctor has considered putting donation boxes in the lobby.
Senate Republicans (and a couple moderate Senate Democrats) must understand that their cuts to the stimulus bill, which seem to be motivated in part by a petty unwillingness to let the new president have his way, have consequences. It is unlikely that, if things get worse, Obama will be able to go back and ask for more massive budget outlays. This may be Washington’s only chance to get this right.
So yes, Republicans will have their pound of flesh. And folks like Margaret Frye-Jackman will pay for it.