Get our free newsletter
There’s been plenty of speculating and fretting that the new Republican-controlled House may make unwelcome forays into District politics, stirring up trouble on social issues like gay marriage or medical marijuana. But in the end, it’ll probably all be about the Benjamins.
Witness the newly released list of proposed federal budget cuts from a group of conservative House members called the Republican Study Committee. The group wants to cut a $150 million a year subsidy for Metro, and $210 million a year for “general assistance” to the District.
The curious thing about that description is that the District doesn’t get any “general assistance” from Uncle Sam. Instead, federal money finds its way to the District through specific federal programs, like Medicaid. LL’s got some calls in to find out exactly what the RSC is talking about with this “general assistance” and will update as necessary. (But hey, cutting D.C.’s budget is always popular with people who live nowhere near here, so maybe they don’t really care.)
It’s worth keeping in mind that these are just proposed cuts that would still need to get the approval of the Republican House leadership, the House itself, and the Senate, as well as President Obama. But it’s still a signal that the District can’t get no respect.
And in the end, the reason proposals like this should cause some alarm here is pretty simple: Which member of Congress (who can actually vote) is going to advocate against cuts that only affect the District? Sure, elected officials from Maryland and Virginia won’t take kindly to the proposed cuts to Metro. But lawmakers sympathetic to the District may have their hands full playing defense against other proposed cuts to put up much of a fight on every front.
Update: One Wilson Building speculator tells LL that the proposed cuts could come from the District’s court system, which apparently is paid for by the feds. Who knew?
Update No. 2: Gray’s budget boss Eric Goulet says the proposed cuts would have a “catastrophic effect” on the District’s finances, which would have to be made up by taxing income at its source, otherwise known as a commuter tax (which Congress would never approve).
Goulet also pointed LL to a list (it’s the first five pages) of current federal payments to the District. The list includes $250 million a year the feds pay for courts, $52 million for school improvement, and $10 million for housing the homeless.