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I ran into a link tonight from the Democratic candidate for U.S. senate in New Mexico, Martin Heinrich. This post from August 24, 2012 associates his Republican opponent with the budget proposal from Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice president, and emphasizes how it would affect Native Americans, especially the sizeable number of them who live in New Mexico. Factually, it seems accurate; the numbers would be in the Ryan budget if one wished to look.

Mr. Heinrich was largely quoting a report from the Democratic members of the House Natural Resources committee. Here's a link to the web page, which links further to a PDF of the actual report. The report summarizes cuts to everything that the committee supervises, including the Interior Department, National Park Service, NOAA, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Indian Health Service (IHS). Since the original link focused on the Native American agencies, that's what I dug into. I got the current-year budget figures from the agencies' websites, and calculated the percentage from the proposed cuts:

  • 2012 request: $2.5 billion
  • Ryan plan cuts: $375 million
  • Percentage cut: −14.8%
  • 2012 appropriation: $4.3 billion
  • Ryan plan cuts: $637 million
  • Percentage cut: −14.8%
Since the cuts to both departments are 14.8%, I wonder if that's some sort of target figure in the budget for everything but defense. If I get a chance to find out, I will.

That much cutting would significantly affect two agencies that are arguably underfunded, causing programs to be cut and affecting jobs of up to 20,000 government personnel. Besides these direct cuts, the Ryan budget proposes to turn Medicaid money into block grants to states. That would be a major issue for the Indian Health Service, which is currently allowed to bill Medicaid directly without going through states.

I didn't run into any coverage of this in Native American news websites in a quick Google search. It's true that Ryan's budget did not become law, yet. It's easy to project that a Romney administration with a Republican–controlled Congress might well push through cuts like this as soon as they're able.


Oct. 11th, 2012 08:23 am (UTC)
When there was all the understandable hoo-hah about Obama becoming the US's first black president I wondered when the US will elect its first Native American president?
Oct. 12th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
I guess never say never. There has been at least one Native American senator (Ben Nighthorse Campbell was the first; he represented Colorado from 1993 to 2005). Money and influence doesn't exactly swirl around Native communities, though, and I don't know of any possible prospects for such an office as the president.
Oct. 13th, 2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
As I recall there was a Native American Vice President. Trying to remember his name. I think he was an Osage.
Oct. 13th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
Charles Curtis VP to Hoover.
Oct. 16th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
You are absolutely right. I think I knew this once, but had forgotten. He had represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate before he was vice president.

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