Page 13


1982 was Gramm’s consistent opposition to a state’s right to veto the siting of a nuclear waste dump within its borders. that would disqualify a site located in a highly populated area. He voted for an amendment by James Broyhill, R-North Carolina, which limited state veto power. The amendment passed by a mere six votes, 190-184. The July 24, 1982 National Journal reports that AT&T launched an intensive campaign to kill a bill by Rep. Tim Wirth, D-Colorado, which was designed to restructure the telephone industry by stripping AT&T of some of its competitive and financial advantages. Wirth told the Journal that in his then eight years in Congress he had “seen nothing like the campaign of fear and distortion AT&T waged to fight this bill.” Among the lobbyists for the AT&T position was Phil Gramm. According to the Journal, Gramm was one of a small number of House members leading delaying tactics causing the process amending the bill to drag on for a week. “At one point,” says the Journal, “Gramm came to Wirth with what a staff member called AT&T’s ‘bottom line’ proposal.” In 1983, Gramm received a 93 % Conservative Coalition score for votes including one in opposition to a House Budget Committee resolution for fiscal 1984, calling for $4.9 billion in emergency aid for jobs as well as money for community renewal, summer food and youth employment programs, foreclosure assistance for farmers and homeowners and health insurance benefits for the unemployed. The resolution passed, 229-196, on March 23, 1983, but Gramm, by now having emerged from the Republican closet, condemned the Democrats for “raising taxes and cutting defense to pay for domestic programs.” During the debate on House Resolution 2760, ending U.S. covert aid to anti-government forces in Nicaragua, Gramm declared, “I think we are seeing rank partisanship here which does disservice to the American people, which threatens us in Central America, and which some day may bring the rifle shots to our doorstep. [HR 2760] is a policy of retreat, it is a policy of abrogation of our responsibility, and it is a policy of surrender.” To this, Jim Wright countered: “Do we postulate ourselves as sort of a hemispheric Lone Ranger?” On several key votes in 1983, Gramm acted as a rightwing Lone Ranger. On August 2 he voted against a resolution by Rep. Kika de la Garza, D-Texas, protecting federal nutrition programs from budget cuts and insuring that cases carried be continued in 1984. The resolution passed, 407-16, with Gramm among the 16 opposed. On November 1, Gramm was one of 23 representatives to oppose the removal of troops The Unkindest Cuts THE GRAMM-LATTA Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981 reduced federal budgets for fiscal years 1982-1984 by $131 billion. The cuts included reductions in student loans, Medicare, Medicaid, and school meals, and increased interest rates for small businesses and farmers. The cuts, while affecting the middle class and the very poor, were especially devastating for the working poor because, in many cases, eligibility limits were reduced for government assistance programs, such as food stamps. Working mothers with marginal incomes, for instance, were forced to choose between quitting jobs whose salaries barely exceeded newly lowered qualifying levels for food stamps or Aid to Families with Dependent Children and keeping their jobs and losing all government assistance. Among the reductions in federal spending included in Gramm-Latta were: Agriculture $8.8 billion in cuts in U.S. Department of Agriculture programs for ’82-’84. An increase in loans for water and waste facilities to levels comparable to municipal bonds. Increased interest rates for FmHA farm ownership loans, farm operating loans, and disaster loans; a reduction in the percentage of operating loans earmarked for low-income farmers. Student loans According to the 1981 Congressional Quarterly, as a result of the budget cuts, “millions of lowand middle-income students faced reductions in their the spending limits placed on the program. Students were also required to pay 5 % of the loan value when applying repayment per year was raised from $360 to $600. Interest rates on loans to parents were also increased from 9 % to 14 % . Public Education – Impact aid to local school districts was cut from $757 million in 1981 to $475 million in 1982 \(in many cases causing an increase in local school Small business loans Interest rates for small business and homeowner disaster loans were increased while the disaster coverage for businesses was reduced from 100% to 85 % of the uninsured loss. The interest rates for SBA loans were raised to 1 % above the cost of the money to the government. Arts Approximately 25 % of the budgets of the National Endowment for the Arts and for the Humanities Medicaid and Medicare Medicaid funding was cut by $1 billion per year with federal Medicaid assistance to the states reduced by 3 % in 1982, 4% in 1983, and 4.5% in ’84. Under the Medicare program, the deductible for hospital costs was raised, payments for nursing costs were reduced, and the enrollment period for Medicare coverage was changed from year-round to January 1 through March 31 of each year. Food Assistance Eligibility requirements for food stamps were made more stringent, using lower income levels, causing hardship for many of the working poor. Similar tighter eligibility requirements for Aid to Families of 408,000 families from the program in fiscal 1982. Government subsidized school lunches were cut drastically for those in middle-income brackets. The price for a school lunch doubled for children from families with incomes between the poverty level and $15,630 \(for a family of subsidies, but eligibility standards were tightened. Mass transit Reduced mass transit subsidies by $1,321 billion for 1982 as first phase in Reagan’s program to phase out mass transit operation subsidies by 1985. El THE TEXAS OBSERVER