Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Portrait of a centrist

The Ryan/Romney juggernaut staggers forward, ensuring permanent unemployment for millions.

Hundreds of thousands of unemployed people are desperate for new skills to pull them back into the job market, but when they visit a job-training center, they are often turned away. As Motoko Rich reported in The Times on Monday, Seattle’s seven centers had money to train only 5 percent of the 120,000 people who came in last year seeking new skills, and the numbers are similar elsewhere.
The reason: drastic cuts to federal spending on training over the last six years, including $1 billion since the 2010 fiscal year. Even though training programs are already harder to get into than Ivy League universities, Republicans in the House want to put them even further out of reach.
Last month, the House passed a 2013 budget written by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin that would reduce spending in the category of Education, Training, Employment and Social Services by $16 billion from the previous year, or 22 percent, on top of all the cuts forced by Republicans over several years. The cut in that category is typical of a budget that savages precisely the kind of domestic spending, like job training and Pell grants, needed to help people get off social-safety-net programs, while slicing open the net itself, through big reductions in Medicaid and food stamps (all while generously lowering taxes for the rich).
Mr. Ryan lacked the courage to provide the details of how sharply his budget would affect popular programs like job training or state aid to education. That task, he says cynically, will be left to the appropriating committees in Congress. When a critic like President Obama tries to point out which programs will inevitably suffer when a broad category is sharply cut, Mr. Ryan’s allies, including Mitt Romney, rush in to claim that no such cut was specified in the budget. They want it both ways: to win support from those who don’t care about social programs, without ever having to detail the pain the cuts would cause. 

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