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SPOTLIGHT
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Ripple effects

Published on -3/24/2013, 3:27 PM

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We remain amazed how the country transitioned from the fiscal cliff hysteria and sequestration so devastating it would never pass, to allowing the across-the-board cuts to take place -- and almost being happy about it.

Of course, when the effects of the cuts aren't automatic in reality, it does begin to make sense. Congress is beginning to notice the wreckage being created, and has begun piecemeal legislation to restore funding for critical areas.

In the past two weeks alone, Sen. Jerry Moran either has co-sponsored resolutions or amendments to stop the suspension of tuition assistance benefits for the military, to re-open the White House to visitors, to beef up the Food Safety and Inspection Service, to save FAA Contract Control Towers from closing, to not change the depreciation schedule for corporate jets, and to make permanent a program that grants visa waivers and provides incentives for physicians recruited to underserved communities.

And that's just the actions of one senator who used to make Hays his home. Multiple these efforts by at least 530 to account for the other senators and representatives (we're subtracting Rep. Tim Huelskamp and three others who most likely aren't fighting to reinstate any spending whatsoever), and then multiple it again by at least a few hundred to account for more populous regions of the country and those with even more government contracted positions -- and you'll quickly see most of our lawmakers understand the extremely critical function the federal government plays in all Americans' everyday lives.

We'd implore Sen. Moran or anybody who will listen to add at least one more item to the list of critical functions: The Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Donna Hudson-Hamilton, Early Childhood Connections director in Hays, already has figured out what the effect of a 5 percent reduction caused by the sequestration means here. Nine fewer children will be served next school year -- two in Early Head Start and seven in Head Start.

"We've been cutting back, cutting back, cutting back, and at some point, there's just no place to cut back besides the number that you're serving," Hudson-Hamilton said.

That Early Childhood Connections even is having to plan for this is criminal. There isn't much argument about the long-term effects early childhood education has in terms of societal burdens.

So even the most diehard lawmaker who wants to choke off government spending actually is adding on costs with moves such as this. The pennies saved now will cost dollars later in a multitude of sectors.

The across-the-board and arbitrary expense reductions being imposed from the federal level because of Congress' inability to agree on a deficit/debt reduction course was an ill-conceived plan. In fact, it wasn't even a plan at all. It is punishment for not being able to find common ground on a necessary solution.

Hudson-Hamilton said concerned citizens should "speak up for our youngest citizens because they don't have a voice. There's a lot of research to back the importance of educating them early when the brain is beginning to develop."

Count us in.

We would hope the legislators we've sent to Washington will join in as well. There should be no way a single individual on Capitol Hill can rationalize burdening future generations with the bills of today -- and then deprive them of the education necessary to deal with our incompetence.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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