Alaska Sen. Murkowski Justifies Slashing Head Start Budget

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March 11, 2011; Source: New York Times | Here is the budget cut dilemma for Congressional Republicans as they try to chop the heck out of federal programs: Their constituents like some of the programs that the party aims to cripple or kill, and sometimes the legislators themselves have long identified themselves as program acolytes.

In Alaska, the home page of the Alaska Head Start website has a picture of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) accepting an award for her support of Head Start. The website added a message to Alaskans asking them to call Senator Murkowski's office to ask her to vote against a Republican bill that would cut $2 billion out of President Obama's FY2011 Head Start budget request of $8.2 billion.

Notwithstanding her award, Murkowski voted to carve away the $2 billion. How did Murkowski explain her vote against a program that she says she "absolutely" supports? "I did not get caught up in the individual cuts. My vote was a marker for moving toward a greater degree in a reduction in spending."

That anodyne justification doesn't explain why the Alaska Senator would vote to wipe out one-fourth of the Head Start budget while cutting far less or nothing at all from other federal programs, domestic or otherwise. Will she be invited back to get another award for her support of Head Start? Or will Alaska voters ask her to explain this "individual cut" against all of the individual programs she and her Republican colleagues chose to leave untouched?—Rick Cohen