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  D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e  May 2011

Tumbleweeds,
Page 2


Organizers have booked the Savoy Family Cajun Band from Louisiana as the headliner on Saturday, Sept. 10, and the Colorado bluegrass band Spring Creek as the headliner on Sunday. The Honeygitters will kick off the weekend with a dance at the Buckhorn Opera House, Friday night, Sept. 9. Admission to the dance with be $10, helping to support the rest of the weekend events, which will again be offered free to the public and will include food and craft/artisan vendors.

Pickamania!'s roots go back to another local luthier, Bill Bussman, who used to host musicians from around the state at his then-place near Caballo in the mid-1980s (see "Pickin' and Grinnin'," September 2008). MRAC revived the festival in 2008 and 2009.

To help get Pickamania! back on its feet this year, says McCalmont, a number of local musical groups have stepped up to play the event as a donation. Performer fees have been cut almost in half to make the event affordable for the MRAC to produce and provide without a ticket price to the community. In addition to the performances in the park, workshops by a number of performers will take place both Saturday and Sunday mornings for a modest entrance fee.

For more information, contact MRAC at PO Box 1830, Silver City, NM 88062, (575) 538-2505, or see www.mimbresarts.org.

 

 

Reality Check

Did Rep. Steve Pearce vote to cut veterans benefits, then tell Grant County veterans he'd protect them from deficit reductions? Pretty much.

Perhaps Second District Rep. Steve Pearce needs to be checked for short-term memory loss. Only a few days after voting for the Republican budget plan crafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Pearce was back home in southern New Mexico. Among his stops was Fort Bayard Medical Center in Grant County, where Pearce met with veterans and touted his HEALTHY Vets legislation. The presentation included a colorful chart dramatizing the horrors of the federal budget deficit. Pearce told the assembled vets that the federal government needs to cut spending, but without hurting veterans.

"I am opposed to balancing the budget on the backs of our veterans," Pearce said.

Curious, our crack Reality Check research team dug into the effects on veterans' spending of the Ryan "Path to Prosperity" budget plan that Pearce had just voted for, which mostly got headlines for its proposal to end Medicare as it's currently constituted for everyone not yet age 55. Further specifics are surprisingly tricky to find, but according to the NextGov.com website, Ryan's plan as unveiled in early April "looks like a rocky road for the Veterans Affairs Department and veterans." It would set the 2012 VA budget at $128 billion—a decrease of $4.2 billion from the department's proposed budget—and the 2013 budget at $129 billion. The site notes that Ryan's proposed cuts come even as the VA "prepares to deal with providing services to 2.2 million Afghanistan and Iraq veterans."

The Bipartisan Policy Center, however, adds that in submitting the budget plan to the Congressional Budget Office for "scoring," Ryan and the GOP simply specify "a path for the combination of spending on other mandatory programs"—most veteran's programs—and total discretionary spending. Cumulatively, such spending would have to be slashed from 12% of GDP in 2010 to 6% of GDP in 2022, 4.25% by 2040, and 3.5% by 2050. Two-thirds of the budget cuts would come from low-income programs, including aid to the homeless, among whom are 107,000 veterans of all wars.

At the same time, the Ryan plan would continue the Bush tax cuts while lowering the top marginal tax rates on the wealthiest taxpayers and corporations.

But Ryan and his GOP colleagues may not be done yet. According to Veterans for Common Sense, Ryan's House Budget Committee is also studying a plan to cut $6 billion annually in VA health care costs by canceling enrollment of any veteran who doesn't have a service-related medical condition and is not poor. Committee Republicans are targeting these 1.3 million veterans who claim "priority group 7 or 8 status" and have access to VA care.

Pearce didn't address these plans when speaking to local veterans, or his position on the details of proposed cuts. He did, however, join all but four Republicans in voting for the Ryan budget, which was unanimously opposed by House Democrats including New Mexicans Ben Lujan and Martin Heinrich.

A taste of the kind of campaign rhetoric Pearce and his GOP colleagues might be in store for as a result of their votes comes from Rep. Steve Israel, who runs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: "You cannot vote to cut veterans' benefits in Washington and then go pose for pictures with veterans back in the district. There is a pattern of duplicity here, and we're going to make sure it comes back to haunt them."

 

 

 

Who and what's been making news from New Mexico this past month, as measured by mentions in Google News (news.google.com), which tracks 4,500 worldwide news sources (trends noted are vs. last month's total hits; * indicates new to the list). Number in parenthesis indicates last month's Top 10 rank. Who cares about politics when you can be an astronaut (sort of)? News that Virgin Galactic is hiring pilot-astronauts for its almost-spaceflights rocketed the Spaceport tenant to third place this month, helped by an overall slow news cycle for everything New Mexican. New Senate candidate Martin Heinrich just squeaks onto the list, while potential GOP opponent Heather Wilson still can't crack it (three hits behind). Next month, the Gary Johnson presidential buzz-watch begins!

 

1. (2) New Mexico budget—662 hits (▼)

2. (1) Gov. Susana Martinez—490 hits (▼)

3. (7) Virgin Galactic—441 hits (up)

4. (4) Ex-Gov. Bill Richardson—197 hits (▼)

5. (6) Sen. Jeff Bingaman—181 hits (▼)

6. (10) Sen. Tom Udall—131 hits (▼)

7. (3) New Mexico driver's licenses—89 hits (▼)

8. (-) New Mexico spaceport—63 hits (▲)

9. (-) Martin Heinrich + Senate—56 hits (▲)

10. (-) Spaceport America—55 hits (▲)

 

 

 

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