Washington UPDATE: Advocates Seek to Defeat Balanced Budget Plan

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Washington UPDATE: Advocates Seek to Defeat Balanced Budget Plan.

by Charles Dervarics

A balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution may cut programs for college students and disadvantaged children by more than 30 percent, say advocates planning a strategy to defeat the plan in Congress.

"It would mean across-the-board cuts for the next seven years," said Jeannette Galanis, vice president of the United States Student Association (USSA), on the plan, part of the House Republicans' "Contract with America."

The plan would exempt Social Security and defense spending from cuts, meaning domestic discretionary programs such as education would face reductions of as much as 43 percent, Galanis said. These reductions would come on the heels of other cuts in student financial aid, including a cut of $60 in the maximum Pell Grant since 1992.

"Millions of students would be denied the already inadequate financial aid awards from the federal government," USSA said.

Other advocates caution that low-income Black and Hispanic children also would face dire consequences from the budget amendment, even before they reach college age.

Americans voted for change but "did not vote to deny children Head Start, school lunches, child and health care," said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund. However, CDF said cuts required to meet a balanced budget would:

Remove 222,000 low-income children from Head Start;

Deny nutrition benefits to 2 million children and pregnant women;

Reduce health-care coverage for 6. …


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