Both the Minnesota Legislature and the U.S. Congress will consider many proposals for where to make the spending cuts necessary to balance their respective budget deficits. As appealing as it is to âÄúexamine all the optionsâÄù and âÄúspread the pain around,âÄù budget cuts to social programs and education on any level âÄî city, county, state or federal âÄî should not be made without due consideration to their effect on the most vulnerable segments of the population.
For example, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., proposed cutting $4.5 billion from veteransâÄô benefits as part of a larger plan to cut $400 billion in federal spending.
Bachmann finally withdrew her proposal âÄî which would have reduced compensation for some disabled veterans by as much as $12,000 a year âÄî last Friday, after vocal public opposition. The congresswoman explained her reversal by saying, âÄúThe problem of government spending must be solved, but not on the backs of our nationâÄôs war heroes.âÄù
Thankfully, Bachmann realized that the welfare of injured service members was more important than shaving a small amount of money off the federal deficit. State legislators should do the same weighing of marginal returns and costs as they look at cuts to education and social services to close MinnesotaâÄôs $6 billion deficit.
State legislators should shy away from extreme cuts like BachmannâÄôs proposal involving veteransâÄô benefits. Instead, they should look to eliminate waste and corruption in certain areas, make cuts that protect the neediest and most helpless citizens and increase taxes on those who can afford it before making cuts to education or social welfare.