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EDITORIAL Gramm-Rudman-Whith ONE OF THE BIGGEST frauds to be peddled to the populace since Ronald Reagan took over the nation’s top public relations slot in 1980 is that government in the present political era has irrevocably emerged into the age of limits that government must heretofore be guided by severe and ruthless budget managers. As Gramm-Rudman came knocking this month with news that all federal agencies must cut back by 4.4 percent to reduce the federal deficit, the state of Texas began to wrestle with its own prospective state deficit brought on by the sudden drop in the price of oil and the resulting loss of millions of expected tax dollars. Governor Mark White’s impulse was the very same as the Republican whiz boys Gramm and Rudman: He ordered all state agencies to cut their budgets by 13 percent. Meanwhile conservative cheerleaders watch from the sidelines with glee, egging the budget busters on to braver and braver feats. “Cut, cut, cut,” was the headline on a recent lip-smacking Dallas Morning News editorial. In step with the times, the U.S. Department of Agriculture acted with familiar contempt for social spending early this month and announced a budgetary maneuver that would deprive Texas of $6 million in expected federal aid to the state-administered program that helps pregnant women and infants and children meet their nutritional needs. State health commissioner Robert Bertstein said the cut would result in 26,000 low-income women and children being dropped from the program. And this is a program that had been exempted from Gramm-Rudman cuts. State Sen. Hugh Parmer, D-Fort Worth, said the bureaucratic sleight of hand by the Department of Agriculture was an”act of inhumanity” that would negate the effect of the state legislature’s 1985 increase of $7 million to the nutritional program. As for other programs, Lt. Governor Bill Hobby told an Austin meeting of the Lions Club in February that “The Gramm-Rudman deficit controls will cost the state at least $40 million this year, and as much as $660 million next year in aid to education, highways, and -human services.” Conservatives in Congress and in the Reagan administration know, of course, that by putting more of the burden for social spending on state and local governments they, in effect, eliminate much of the spending for those programs. That is certainly the case in Texas with an ever-shrinking amount of state dollars and with politicians paralyzed with fear of new taxes or revenue measures. Just as talk of “states’ rights” in the 1960s was a code for getting the government out of the civil rights struggle, Reagan’s “new federalism” is working to get the government out of the welfare business. And for those who would complain, there is always the reminder that these are harsh times the government is in debt, the budget deficit looms over the political landscape, provoking cries of “cut, cut, cut.” But this is a hoax and a cruel one, at that. There is no shortage of wealth in America. This is no age of austerity. Anyone who looks at the federal budget knows this. There is plenty of money to fund the military buildup. Spending is not being cut back, it is being re-ordered. And the same is true for the Texas economy. The state is not suddenly poverty-stricken. What we are seeing is the shifting of wealth away from those on the bottom of the heap, and away from TEXAS SERvER The Texas Observer Publishing Co.. 1986 Vol. 79, No. 6 March 21, 1986 Copyright 1986 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. PUBLISHER Ronnie Dugger EDITOR Geoffrey Rips ASSOCIATE EDITOR Dave Denison CALENDAR EDITOR Chula Sims LAYOUT AND DESIGN: Val Fowler EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: Kathleen Fitzgerald WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Vera Titunik EDITORIAL INTERNS: Ron Cesar, Beau Barton, Ellen Williams. EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, Kerrville; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham. N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Dallas; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.: Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Fred Schmidt, Tehachapi, Cal., Robert Sherrill, Tallahassee, Fla. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Warren Burnett, Jo Clifton, Craig Clifford, Louis Dubose. John Henry Faulk, Ed Garcia, Bill Helmer, James Harrington, Jack Hopper, Amy Johnson, Michael King, Dana Loy, Rick Piltz, Susan Raleigh, John Schwartz, Michael Ventura, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue. Russell Lee ; Scott Van Osdol, Alicia Daniel. CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Mark Antonuccio, Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Carlos Lowry, Miles Mathis, Joe McDermott, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau. A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that We agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Managing Publisher Cliff Olofson Subscription Manager Stefan Wanstrom Publishing Consultant Frances Barton Development Consultant Hanno T. Beck Editorial and Business Office The Texas Observer paid at Austin, Texas. Subscription rates, including 5 1/8% sales tax: one year $23, two years $42, three years $59. One year rate for full-time students, $15. Back issues $2 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zceb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106. Copyright 1986 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 28th Street. #I05, Austin, Texas 78705. 2 MARCH 21, 1986