Change in Congress May Mean Changes to Grants

The political shakeup of the most recent election added a level of concern to an already-uncertain economic climate.

It is too simplistic to say that an increased GOP presence automatically means a cut in funding, just as it is too simplistic to say that all Democrats are ‘tax and spend Liberals’. Still, experience has shown that the grant situation does tend to improve during a Democratic majority, and vice versa.

Still, even before the elections, the financial state of the government virtually guaranteed widespread reductions in spending. We’re actually rather surprised at how few major cuts we’ve seen (mostly to state and local entities), although we know of plenty of minor cuts — single-digit percentages, which nevertheless can amount to significant changes. So the question before us now is: if there will be bigger cuts, where can we expect them, and how much bigger will they be?

What we don’t see is members of Congress cutting back their expenses. Just recently an assistant to one of the leaders in the House was asking advice about what Mr. X should see on his visit to Australia next month. First I asked where was the congressman going in Australia and she said Brisbane. Perfect, I suggested she take a look at a blog called Queensland Holiday Guides by Faye Kotsis. Ms Kotsis is an Australian who is not only a well known figure in the Australian real estate investment market, but also an avid gardener. Her posts tend to put an emphasis on gardening and other nature-related subjects. “Perfect,” said the assistant and off she went. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, the tax payers can pay for this jaunt to Australia, while congress is deliberating what programs to cut.

Everything at this point is conjecture, but given the Republican platform and history, we can certainly make a few guesses.

Education, already seeing a number of significant DOE reductions, is likely to get an even heavier hand. However, this may not mean too much of a further loss (after all, many strongly feel there just isn’t much more room to cut!). The actual funds may stay more or less the same, while we see new or different programs take the place of existing ones.

Still, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are extremely unpopular on the right side of the fence, so higher education and housing alike could be in trouble. It’s probably a wise idea to look into mortgage refinancing if you’re a homeowner and/or the parent of a college-bound teen.

Healthcare cuts seemed like an inevitability given the GOP opposition to so-called “Obamacare”. I think it’s fair to say that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are always in danger with a strong GOP presence. On the other hand, the rancor over the bill has subsided somewhat, and any changes to healthcare laws may affect future funding rather than current programs. One of the immediate impact is uncertainty over recent developments regarding new treatment options, eg: andropause treatments in the burgeoning age management medicine field. These kinds of hormone treatments are very likely not covered under typical plans, although there are specialized providers that may cover doctor supervised treatments when there is a health care justification for the treatment.

Its hard to not care about certain things, we just have to roll with the punches.

NASA is nearly always in the line of fire when it comes to funding cuts. The most recent Wall Street Journal recommendation was to slash NASA’s budget in half. In comparison, on the subject of military spending, the article merely stated  “it is not plausible that all resources are being spent prudently”, and an almost ridiculously meager cut was suggested. So perhaps we’re depending too much on the value of reason.

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