$3.5 billion is a start, but more precise budget cuts are needed

August 6, 2013 

Our first reaction after learning that our representative to the U.S. House of Representatives, Mick Mulvaney (R-Dist. 5), spearheaded a bipartisan effort to trim $3.5 billion from the federal budget was to give him a pat on the back. Forget the money for a moment; any House member willing to cross the aisle and risk exposure to the radiation belt separating the two parties since Mulvaney’s 2010 freshman class came to Washington should be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize.

It should be appreciated that the Indian Land Republican, now in his second term, managed to attract a majority of Democrats and just enough members of his own party to pass an amendment that reduced the proposed military budget for the next fiscal year by eliminating what appears to be wasteful spending. It’s at least something to show for the time put in prior to the four-week break Congress enjoys in August.

In context, though, it’s just a tiny drop in the ocean-sized budget. And considering the scant work the House accomplished so far this year, we decided to follow their lead and conserve our energy. So instead of a pat on the back, we’ll extend Mulvaney a nod and hope he and the rest of the House feels compelled to rebate taxpayers part of their paychecks this year. Certainly, few people – see the historically low approval rating (14 percent, with nearly 80 percent of Americans polled saying they disapprove of Congress) this Congress has earned – will disagree.

Mulvaney and others in both the House and Senate are actually proud that sequestration was allowed to occur as the consequence of Congress’ inability to find a way to agree on a spending plan. The across-the-board cuts are already affecting most Americans, and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that more than 700,000 jobs could be lost by year’s end. That includes about 1,000 jobs at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, where Mulvaney visited and was told by a commanding general that the base’s readiness has been compromised, according to a story in the Washington Post.

That’s not in the best interest of the country’s defense, and it certainly does nothing to nurture the national economy back to health.

In contrast, these latest proposed cuts are targeted, and though the savings by themselves don’t solve the larger problem, at least it’s a start. To paraphrase an old saying, pennies make dollars. We can only hope Congress, when it returns in the fall, will have found a little wisdom during its vacation. Closing the deficit is a national priority, but it needs to be accomplished while inflicting the least amount of pain possible and certainly not at the expense of our safety or economic recovery.

Please help supply students in need

Our annual pitch to help needy students get supplies for the coming school year draws to a close this week. But that does not mean it’s too late to donate.

School starts in about two weeks, and donations can be brought to any school now or any time during the school year. It’s important that students begin the new school year with everything they need to succeed. Supplies include backpacks, pencils, calculators, notebooks, hand sanitizer and many more. Complete lists are available on school websites.

The price of crayons or a pack of notebook paper can be under $1, but those costs add up, especially for parents with more than one child. Local educators say students need the proper supplies to excel in class but there’s another factor to consider – self esteem. Children have an inherent need to fit in, and those who are conspicuous because they are short on pens or paper could be more likely to develop emotional problems that can hold them back in the classroom and in life outside school.

Donated supplies can be dropped off any Fort Mill school 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Friday. For school locations, go to www.fort-mill.k12.sc.us.

To donate money, send a check or money order made out to The Foundation for Fort Mill Schools to 2233 Deerfield Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29715.

Corporations interested in holding school supply drives can contact Kelly McKinney, the district’s media and communications officer, at 548-8228, for assistance and information.

In addition to supplies, Indian Land Elementary is collecting clothes to help students in need meet the uniform dress code. For more information about donating to Indian Land schools, call 803-286-6972.

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