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 Mama's Alert: Budget Ax Could Swing at Child Care

Thursday, January 27, 2011

If the U.S. really wants to be the competitive country Obama evoked in his State of the Union speech, we need mega-tons more good, affordable child care. But the cost-cutting mania in the nation's capital puts a cost-cutting question over the nation's toddlers.

(WOMENSENEWS)--President Barack Obama emphasized in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that the fiscal belt is tightening, the budget ax is coming, the government is shrinking.

So mamas, watch out. The child care programs that many of us rely on to make ends meet and to help launch the next generation are at risk.

It's preposterous, really, that we have to worry about this when what the country needs is far more, and far better--not less--child care, especially if we want the kind of competitive, innovative society Obama called for in his State of the Union address.

And don't tell me we can't get this done, even in a time of fiscal austerity.

Take a look at our own military. Somehow it manages to provide high quality, affordable child care. Our soldiers rely on that benefit, and we need it out here in the civilian world too.

The day before Obama's primetime speech, he announced plans to ramp up support for military families in child care and in other areas. And yet, despite a good chunk of airtime devoted to investments in education during his annual address this week, he didn't once mention public child care or early education.

Speaker of the House John Boehner has taken a more draconian approach. If he gets his way, the federal government will cut discretionary funding that is not linked to homeland security, the national defense or the nation's veterans back to fiscal 2008 levels in March, when the continuing budget resolution that is currently keeping the government going expires.

That would amount to a 21 percent reduction from current spending levels for the remainder of the fiscal year, according to Helen Blank, director of leadership and public policy at the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C.


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