by Félix Pérez
Now that Mitt Romney is officially the Republican nominee for president of the United States, voters are starting to take a closer look at what a Romney administration might look like in terms of education and programs that serve children. And based on his enthusiastic support of the budget created by his running mate, Paul Ryan, as well as Romney’s own budget plan, children and public education would shoulder an outsized share of the responsibility for balancing the nation’s budget while the super-wealthy would enjoy significant tax cuts.
Students at every education level would be affected by Ryan’s budget, according to analysts and economists.
- It would eliminate more than 190,000 Head Start slots for poor children by 2014 and result in more than 2 million children being shut out of the preschool program over the next 10 years.
- It would reduce or eliminate Title I services to 4 million K-12 students.
- It would cut Pell Grants to more than 9 million college students by more than $1,000 in 2014, and, over the next decade, more than 1 million students would lose this aid entirely.
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Nevertheless, Romney is a big fan of Ryan’s budgetary handiwork. “I’m very supportive of the Ryan budget plan,” said Romney this spring. “It’s a bold and exciting effort on his part and on the part of the Republicans, and it’s very much consistent with what I put out earlier…I applaud it. It’s an excellent piece of work and very much needed.”
Health care and anti-hunger programs directed at poor children, people with disabilities and the elderly would likewise bear a disproportionate share of Ryan’s budget medicine.
The Ryan budget would cut Medicaid by one-third over a decade and convert the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into a block grant. Fully, one-third of America’s children rely on Medicaid for their health care. Similarly, most SNAP recipients are children or seniors.
Romney’s education platform, released in May, is less well known than the Ryan budget. It too, however, is drawing interest from voters seeking to familiarize themselves with Romney’s ideas.
Among the platform’s proposals:
- Convert Title I, the largest federal program for low-income students, and remake the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, into a national voucher program.
- Expand and make permanent the Washington, D.C., voucher program.
- Reinsert banks as the providers of federally guaranteed student loans, repealing one of President Barack Obama’s signature education achievements.
- Eliminate teacher certification requirements.
Aside from his education platform, Romney’s budget proposal has come under fire from some analysts for what they view as its sharp cuts to programs and services that help the poor, people with disabilities and the young.
“The cuts that would be required under the Romney budget proposals in programs such as veterans’ disability compensation, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for poor elderly and disabled individuals, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and child nutrition programs would move millions of households below the poverty line or drive them deeper into poverty,” concluded the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
An analysis by the Tax Policy Center found that Romney’s tax proposal would force a $2,000 tax hike on average middle-class families with children, while the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans would get a tax cut of $87,000.