Dems say GOP cutting agencies' budgets by $7 billion

Several key agencies face significant cuts or freezes in fiscal 2003 spending bills still working their way through the House, according to an analysis by Democratic aides on the House Budget Committee.

Several key government programs face significant cuts or freezes in fiscal 2003 appropriations bills passed so far by the House Appropriations Committee or under the House-passed fiscal 2003 budget resolution, according to an analysis by Democratic aides on the House Budget Committee.

In a Friday "Dear Colleague" letter, House Budget ranking member John Spratt, D-S.C., said the Republican budget would cut domestic funding for fiscal 2003 by more than $7.1 billion below fiscal 2002 enacted levels and $19.6 billion below the amount needed to keep pace with inflation.

Spratt said the cuts could grow "even deeper," given the worsening budget outlook. Last week, OMB reported a $159 billion deficit for fiscal 2002, a reversal of $286 billion when compared to the $127 billion surplus in fiscal 2001.

In addition, Spratt said Republicans would continue to divert $2 trillion from the Social Security surplus over the next 10 years "to pay for excessive tax cuts." That comes even amid growing calls for beefing up homeland security and defense spending on terrorism and, possibly, Iraq.

"So Republicans have left us with a Hobson's choice: either expand the president's current planned $2 trillion raid of the Social Security Trust Fund or pursue even deeper unacceptable and counterproductive cuts of the domestic responsibilities of government," Spratt said in the letter.

Among those programs slated for cuts, according to Democrats: highway funds, which are reduced $4.1 billion below fiscal 2002; AmeriCorps, which is zeroed out in the House VA-HUD spending bill; Amtrak, which is reduced by nearly $440 million below what transportation leaders say will be necessary to keep the rail service in operation; the SEC, which is reduced $100 million below the administration's own request; employment training, which is reduced $508 million below fiscal 2002; and low-income heating programs, which are reduced $300 million below fiscal 2002.