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WEDNESDAY BUZZ: House FY 2012 Republican Budget Plan Slashes Student Aid; Fate of 2011 Budget Still Unclear

April 06, 2011


The FY 2012 budget plan released yesterday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would impose major changes on key government entitlement programs and sweeping cuts in domestic spending, including Pell Grants and funding for university research and job training programs.

Although it is unlikely to succeed in the Senate, as The New York Times pointed out this morning, “the plan sets the conservative parameter of the debate over the nation’s budget priorities further to the right than at any time since the modern federal government began taking shape nearly eight decades ago.”

The proposal, which will be marked up in the House Budget Committee today and is likely to be considered on the House floor next week, calls for cutting spending $6 trillion over a decade, restructuring programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, and reducing and restructuring taxes. Pell Grants would be scaled back to their pre-stimulus (2008) level, cutting the annual federal allocation by about half.

“It’s obviously pretty drastic, and the impact on Pell is dire,” Becky Timmons, assistant vice president for government relations at ACE, told Inside Higher Ed.

“There is no question that the recent economic downturn has put unsustainable pressure on federal student aid programs, and there is no question that reducing the deficit is part of ensuring a healthy economic recovery,” said the Student Aid Alliance in a news release last night. “But proposals to reduce the cost of the Pell Grant Program should be driven by economic need and rational analysis rather than ideology. The magnitude of the Pell Grant cuts contained in the House budget proposal simply fails that test.”

The White House said the plan “cuts taxes for millionaires and special interests while placing a greater burden on seniors who depend on Medicare or live in nursing homes, families struggling with a child who has serious disabilities, workers who have lost their health care coverage, and students and their families who rely on Pell grants.”

Meanwhile, Congressional negotiators continued talks on FY 2011 spending in the face of a possible government shutdown this weekend. Discussions between House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and President Obama have brought no resolution so far.

In an effort to buy more time to complete a final bill for 2011, Republican leaders yesterday offered yet a week-long spending resolution that would make an additional $12 billion in cuts and fully fund the Department of Defense. Democrats have already declared this proposal to be unacceptable, and it is unlikely that they will accept this plan before the previous short-term resolution expires tomorrow.

Also see:

House Republicans Single Out Student Aid for Cuts in Plan to Slash 2012 Spending
The Chronicle of Higher Education

Scary: GOP’s 2012 Education Priorities
The Washington Post (free reg. req.)

The 3 Worst Assumptions in Paul Ryan's Budget
The Atlantic

Ryan’s $5.8 Trillion Cuts Put on Fast Track
The Hill

The GOP Path to Prosperity
The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

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