March 2011 - Parks & Recreation - 32

advocacy update continued from page 29

There are 96 new members of the House
which the savings from amendments to
cut funding can be placed to effectively
reduce that bill section's spending cap
and prevent the funds from being used
for other purposes.
Meanwhile, across the Capitol grounds
on the Senate side, a bipartisan group of
senators introduced a bill that would dramatically cut spending by imposing an
annual cap on all federal spending, both
discretionary and mandatory. The group,
led by Tennessee Republican Bob Corker and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, aims to reduce total spending
over 10 years from the current 24.7 percent of GDP to " the historical level of 20.6
percent " of GDP. No specifics on where
those cuts would be made were included
in the draft legislation. Senators are also
pushing Congress to enact " enhanced rescission authority, " which would empower the President to propose a package
of spending cuts from enacted appropriations bills, with Congress required
to take an up-or-down vote on the package. Supporters argue it would enable the
President and Congress to more quickly
eliminate spending and have a greater
impact on deficit reduction. Under current rescission authority, the President
can send up a package of proposed cuts,
but Congress can ignore it. Enhanced
rescission proposals are a response to
the Supreme Court's ruling in 1998 that
Presidential line-item veto authority was
unconstitutional.

The Other Side to the Story
The question of timing, specifically as to
when federal spending should be significantly reduced, continues to be one of
the largest divides between Republicans
and Democrats. Republicans argue that
spending and deficits are out of control
and that Americans want spending cut
now, while Democrats argue such cuts
would threaten a fragile economic recovery and that serious reductions shouldn't
occur until economic growth is strong.
It's virtually certain that the White House
and Senate Democrats will reject the level
of cuts initially passed by House Republicans, prompting lengthy negotiations

30	 Parks & Recreation      M A R C H

of Representatives and 13 new members of
the Senate, and the majority of these new
members are not familiar with our issues.
between the parties and the likelihood of
more than one short-term CR extension.
As the need to approach the debt limit
nears, the two parties will continue trying
to position themselves to avoid possible
blame should stalemate lead to a government shutdown or default.
Top House Budget Democrat, Chris
Van Hollen (D-MD), released a statement
on the immediate spending cuts proposed by House Republicans, saying they
are harmful to the economy and will put
more people out of work. He argued that
reducing the deficit must be done in a fiscally responsible way and referred to the
President's bipartisan Fiscal Commission
and well-known economists when making the point that deep and immediate
spending cuts proposed by Republicans
could raise the unemployment rate back
into double digits. Office of Management
and Budget (OMB) Director Jacob J. Lew,
in a response to the GOP spending plan,
also said the Administration agrees with
tough choices, referring to the President's
State of the Union Address where the
President proposed a five-year non-security discretionary freeze for a savings of
$400 billion over 10 years, but added that
" we cannot make cuts that undermine our
ability to create jobs, drive innovation,
and compete in a global economy-all of
which are critical to winning the future. "
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin
(D-IL) acknowledged that spending cuts
will likely occur in the months ahead and
expressed " real regret and some major
concern, " adding that he hopes cuts will
be done in a careful way to help keep the
economy on track.

The Other End of
Pennsylvania Avenue
OMB Director Lew identified several
programs that will be cut in Obama's upcoming 2012 budget - the President's
budget will be submitted the week of
February 14, having been delayed from

2 0 1 1       w w w . N R PA . O R G

its February 7th statutory deadline. Unfortunately, this may give Republicans the
go-ahead to cut them now. In an opinion
piece in the New York Times, Lew wrote
that Obama's budget would include
" scores of cuts " to programs the President supports, explaining they had to
choose programs that, absent the fiscal
situation, they would not otherwise cut.
Lew highlighted three proposed cuts: a
$350 million (half the program's funding)
for community service block grants; $125
million (a quarter of current financing) for
the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; and
$300 million (a 7.5 percent cut) for Community Development Block Grants. CDBG
funding has long been a target for many
Republicans, with the Republican Study
Committee recently proposing to entirely
eliminate the CDBG program and other
community development activities. This
is a major program for park and recreation activities at the community level,
providing approximately $100 million in
funding annually for park and recreation
projects and programs, and its elimination will significantly hurt efforts to maintain and enhance current facilities, as well
as to build new ones.

What Does All This Mean For Parks
and Recreation Funding?
In previous years when Congress or the
Administration has sought to reduce federal spending for park and recreation
programs, LWCF and CDBG in particular have been early targets for cuts. For
instance, appropriations for LWCF were
greatly reduced in the early and mid1990s, as the Clinton Administration and
Congress focused on deficit reduction.
Similarly, while George W. Bush came
into office advocating for full and dedicated funding for LWCF with 50 percent allocated to the State Assistance
program, his FY 2006 budget called for
zero funding for the State Assistance
program as well as the CDBG program.



March 2011 - Parks & Recreation

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