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Letter: A Look at White House’s Numbers

To the Editor:

Regarding the sequester and the “Twin State Impacts” (Feb. 25): It is my understanding that $85 billion in cuts will not take effect from March through September, contrary to what the Valley News reports, but only a pro rata portion, less than $50 billion. Even with these “cuts,” federal spending this year will be greater than last year.

According to the White House-compiled numbers: 20 at-risk teachers and aides in Vermont receive on average $55,000 each. Including aides! Thirty at-risk teachers, aides and staff for students with disabilities in New Hampshire receive an average of $73,333 each. Including staff! They apparently receive 57 percent more than the similarly employed 30 in Vermont ($2.2 million total vs $1.4 million). About 1,000 civilian Department of Defense workers in Vermont may lose an average of $2,900 each through furloughs, while 1,000 such workers in New Hampshire can lose $5,400.

According to your report, 100 children each in Vermont and New Hampshire will stop receiving Head Start services. According to a recent in-depth study by Health and Human Services, Head Start provides no measurable lasting benefits after children are out of the program.

The Twin States together will lose over $3 million for environment and wildlife protection. No explanation is given about how this money is spent, or what percent of environmental spending it constitutes.

And so on, listing many well-intended programs with no accounting of how funds are currently used or what portions will remain.

What one concludes from reading this list:

Any interpretation of these numbers will be overly simplistic, so shame on the White House for trying to use them to fear-monger us citizens.

Either our local communities use money taken from other states to subsidize our public health, education and law enforcement ... or all states are takers and we are borrowing unsustainably from our grandchildren (the debt) or stealing from the poor (who suffer most when money is printed and prices rise).

Tim Dreisbach

South Royalton

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