Head Start programs have been slammed nationwide by Republican sequestration cuts, and Community Action in Topeka, Kansas is no exception – it’s considering a plan “that will close one pre-school class, eliminating 20 enrollment slots for pre-schoolers,” and “close one Early Head Start class, cutting 8 infant/ toddler slots.”
As one might imagine, local families aren’t pleased, but their member of Congress has an explanation for the mess.
What made this particular news segment notable was the lawmaker who appeared in it to argue that these outcomes could have been avoided.
“None of those cuts have to be made there,” Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) told the station. “That is a choice by the administration, so we are going to continue to put pressure on the administration.”
Jenkins is terribly confused, and it’s unfortunate that she appeared on local television repeating a message that isn’t true.
Let’s set the record straight. The whole point of the sequester policy was to mandate inflexible, across-the-board cuts. Jenkins should understand this – she voted for it.
This is not “a choice by the administration” – newsflash: the Obama White House supports universal pre-K, not steep spending cuts to Head Start – the specific purpose of the policy is to ensure it isn’t up to the administration.
Jenkins has this backwards.
There was a Republican proposal to change the nature of sequestration before the deadline, in which the size of the cuts would be left intact, but it would be dependent on the Obama administration to figure out where to make them. Congressional Democrats, not surprisingly, failed to see this as a credible compromise; the White House didn’t want these politically perilous obligations; and many on the right didn’t like the idea of the legislative branch turning over “power of the purse” to the executive branch for the sake of convenience.
In other words, it didn’t pass.
If Jenkins doesn’t like these Head Start cuts, I’m delighted – I don’t like them, either. But instead of deliberately misleading the public about who’s responsible for the cuts, perhaps she should endorse scrapping the sequester and ending these needlessly stupid cuts.