THE ECONOMY: Cut that Budget!

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HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE ($2.8 billion). Bridges would do little trimming here, but the N.A.M. and the C. of C. consider this a Welfare State monster, fair game for the ax. Both want to chop off completely the Eisenhower program of aid for school construction, hack away on other grants-in-aid to the states. The N.A.M.'s proposed amputations add up to $1 billion, the C. of C.'s to $700 million.

DEFENSE ($38 billion). Bridges proposes an overall cut of $750 million, or 2%, holds that the Defense Department's $10 billion carryover in unobligated funds will give a wide margin of defense safety. The N.A.M. suggests a flat 5% without further specifications, also would deny the Atomic Energy Commission $30 million for new plants. According to the C. of C., savings on research and development, maintenance and administration, plus "redeployment of forces" (i.e., pulling back some troops from overseas), would enable the Defense Department to get along on $1.2 billion less (about 3%) without any cutback in weapons procurement.

AGRICULTURE ($8.4 billion). Bridges favors congressional legislation that would scale down some politically sacred agriculture programs—the soil bank, commodity credit, conservation, etc. Such cuts (plus similar cuts in federal grants to states) would save, he says, some $500 million. The N.A.M. would cut back soil Conservation, the farmers' loans and rural electrification programs to 1956 levels, and it draws a special bead on a $3,000,000 program of grants to states for tree planting. The Chamber of Commerce wants to save $216 million by cutting off grant money for the school-lunch program and cutting back conservation payments.

Perfect Monument. Since the Administration's budget proposals are basically dictated by 1) fixed costs such as debt interest, 2) cold war necessities and 3) public demand for services, it is unlikely that Congress' final budget parings will amount to anything like the N.A.M.'s $6.5 billion, or even Senator Bridges' $3.3 billion. Bridges himself admits that what he really hopes for is a $2.5 billion cut. California's Bill Knowland, perhaps even more realistically, talks of $2 billion.

Last week Clarence Cannon's House Appropriations Committee got down to the actual job of wielding the economy scalpel, started off gently by shaving $80 million—a little more than 2%—off the Treasury and Post Office requests. As if encouraged when the full House passed the shaved bill by a voice vote, the committee went ahead and sliced the Interior Department fund by $61 million, or 12%. Among the bits of trimmed-off fat: $25,000 for designing a monument "symbolizing the ideals of democracy." Ruled the committee: "The Capitol Building itself is the best possible symbolization of the ideals of democracy."

But it takes a heap of $25,000 parings to make $2 billion. And while the House was trimming $25,000 items here and there, Georgia's Senator Richard Russell worried about the Administration's planned 1958 cutback in military research and development funds, was vowing to push for an extra appropriation of "several hundred million dollars" for atomic-airplane research. To reach even the Knowland goal, Cannon & Co. have a long way to go.

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