Of all those trying to translate the stripped-down congressional budget resolution into program cuts, none have had a more agonizing time than Democrats on the House Eduction and Labor Committee where many of the programs to help the poor were born.
For two days this week they met in closed caucus to try to find more than $10 billion to cut next year from programs to help education, feed poor children, create public service jobs and from a long list of other programs this most liberal of House committees has created over the last 20 years. A committee staffer called the sessions the most "agonzing and painful" he had seen members of Congress go through.
It was a particularly trying experience for old liberals such as Chairman Carl D. Perkins (D-Ky.), author of aid to elementary education and the school lunch program; Augustus F. Hawkins (D-Calif.) from the black Watts district of Los Angeles who has worked all his life for jobs programs, and Phillip Burton (D-Calif.).
At one point Friday afternoon Perkins said the Democrats had almost reached their target and in doing so had voted to eliminate the popular school aid program to areas impacted by federal installations. They also had voted to cut $3.5 billion from public service jobs and to make cuts of about 25 percent in aid to elementary and secondary education, vocational education and child nutrition.
But the figures kept swinging back and forth as members made yet another effort to save more of their programs. By early Friday evening they had lost a quorum and had no idea what their figures totaled. So they recessed until Tuesday to make another try at wrapping up a package of program cuts to put before the full committee before the June 12 deadline for submission of program cuts to the Budget Committee.