There is no denying that in this difficult budget climate, politicians are facing tough decisions. Astronomical budget and debt challenges have given many experts cause for serious concern regarding the stability of the U.S. economy. State and federal programs — including many that affect children — are being slashed to balance budgets.
But what has been lost in the machinations of hot political debate are the long-term consequences for families who will see almost nothing but devastating cuts in vital programs needed to educate, support or treat children — especially those with special vulnerabilities.
The most unfortunate irony is that cutting children’s benefits saves very little money in the short term and could have serious long-term financial implications. Although children comprise nearly half of Medicaid enrollees, they account for only 20 percent of expenditures. Children are the least expensive to ensure, yet stand to lose the most if they don’t receive the care they need to grow into productive adults.
The government will spend substantially more money treating these children’s illnesses years later than it would have spent averting the illnesses through immunizations and other preventive care. Rather than saving money, politicians are simply passing a larger cost onto future generations.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently held up Texas as an example of misplaced priorities when it comes to spending. Texas ranks low in high school graduation rates and high in child poverty and uninsured children. Yet, Gov.
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