The government is facing $1.2 trillion in “automatic” budget cuts that will go into effect March 1. They’re a result of the decision made by Congress a couple years ago to basically put off solving the growing federal budget problems. Programs nearly across the board will be cut, including WIC. But how will WIC be affected?
WIC serves over 9 million participants. The upcoming budget cuts may cut that number by 600,000, or by as many as 748,500 participants. What’s unclear to me is how these participants are being cut. Are they going to change the eligibility requirements? Are they going to decrease how long participants can benefit from the program? Will WIC simply turn into a first-come, first-served basis?
Since I haven’t heard anything about who these 748,500 participants are, I’m going to assume no one knows. My guess is that what’s on the chopping block is a dollar amount (8.2% of its current budget), and someone did the math in terms of how much is spent on each participant, and translated dollars into persons. It’s just a guess, but I bet I’m right.
And if I’m right about this, then in reality, those 748,500 participants don’t have to be cut at all. What needs to be cut is the amount that is spent per participant. And I’m not saying the program needs to give less food to each person, just that the food needs to cost less, and that certain foods can be replaced with better options. Things like Juicy Juice and jars of baby food can be replaced with raw fruits and vegetables, which are both less expensive and more healthy.
But I predict that this won’t happen. Politicians get too much money from lobbyists who want their products to continue to be WIC-approved, because this makes them a ton of money.
I also predict that WIC will not lose any funding, nor will many if any of the other budgets scheduled to lose funding. Congress will come up with some kind of “solution” that will keep these cuts from happening, whether by pushing them off another year or two, or by actually increasing spending instead. Because our government just doesn’t know how to get smaller. They don’t know how to spend less.
So, as you can probably tell, I’m pretty cynical about all this. I’m all for responsible spending cuts, but these kinds of “cuts” are often hyped up and blown out of proportion. Nobody wants arbitrary cuts, and I’m sure Congress and the President fly in and “save the day,” even though they’re partly responsible for creating this “crisis” to begin with.
Are you worried about the future of WIC? Because I’m not. Not one bit.