Three days ago – it was reported that Governor Rick Scott vetoed $1.5 million in funding for 30 rape crisis centers in Florida in the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness month. It’s hard for a politician to say they care about women’s issues and then cut funding away for rape victims; I think even the most conservative of women would find that off-putting and offensive. The Governor has made significant cuts in education and Medicaid programs in order to pay for his tax cuts for corporations. And this is the model that Republicans are trying to copy across the nation; if you hear a politician talking about the need for “smaller government” – this is what they mean. ”Smaller government” means cuts in education, helping rape victims, reducing unemployment assistance, privatizing Medicare but also huge tax cuts for the wealthy and increased spending on the military apparently.
The Huffington Post explains the costs:
Jennifer Dritt, the executive director of the Florida Council, said she was “stunned” and “confused” by Scott’s move and that she questions his reasoning for slashing the funds.
“We say ‘here’s the need, here’s the need, here’s the need,’ and frankly, nobody’s paying any attention,” she told HuffPost. “We gave them information about the number of new survivors we have and we showed them that these rape crisis centers have waiting lists. Survivors are having to wait weeks, sometimes six weeks, in some programs three months to be seen. We included quotes from the programs about the waiting lists and what services they weren’t able to offer because of a lack of money. There is clearly an unmet need.”
Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic says this is an example of what is to come if Republicans are able to pass the Romney/Ryan budget:
In this sense, Scott offers a preview of what’s to come if Romney becomes president and, working with allies like Ryan, he carries out his plans for the federal budget. Romney hasn’t called specifically for defunding sexual violence treatment or much of anything else. But, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has pointed out, Romney’s commitment to capping federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product, while setting aside 4 percent for defense, would require “extraordinary cuts.”
The result would be dramatic reductions in some combination of safety net programs, education, and myriad smaller initiatives like the one in Florida that helps rape victims—even as the wealthiest Americans got tax cuts. The cuts would go well beyond any that President Obama and the Democrats have endorsed (although even some of those, for the record, have gone farther than I would have liked).
Romney won’t say that’s his plan, of course. Instead, he’ll talk about cutting government and taxes in the abstract, just like Scott did when he was running for governor. What remains to be seen is whether American voters grasp the implications in time—or whether, as in Florida, they’ll only learn when it’s too late.
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