When the Reagan administration's proposed budget cuts were first publicized last year in budget director David A. Stockman's so-called "Black Book," they touched off fears among a wide range of people who depended on the government for everything from student aid to medical care.
A year after the cuts officially took effect, their impact in the Washington area is mixed. For the more than 40,000 people estimated to have been cut from entitlement programs such as welfare, food stamps and Medicaid, they have resulted in a basic change. Others, however, have made relatively easy adjustments to cuts that in many cases were not as severe as initially proposed.
Last year, The Washington Post interviewed a variety of people in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia who feared they would be affected by the budget ax. A year later, here is what happened to six of them: The CETA Worker
A year ago Jocelyn T. Bynum was working in the D.C. government in a federal jobs program and also receiving welfare payments.
Bynum lost her $9,000-a-year job when the Reagan administration eliminated the CETA program. She was able to find another government job but then she and her children became one of 3,000 families to be cut from D.C. welfare and Medicaid rolls, primarily because of new Reagan administration rules.
Those losses, Bynum said, meant that she could not afford an apartment for herself and her two children, Shannita, 4, and Stanley, 2, following their eviction in July from a $190-a-month efficiency apartment.
The children moved in with their grandmother in July, while Bynum rented a single room in a private home nearby.
Bynum earns $11,080 as a D.C. government budget aide. "I bring home $262 every two weeks, and $230 is gone before I even get it" between rent and $280 monthly day-care cost.
Bynum said she also now pays $27 monthly for medical insurance, and owes about $300 in medical bills she accumulated after losing Medicaid.
"Losing my [welfare] supplemental and the Medicaid means that I don't have enough money to get an apartment for me and my kids to stay . . . . It affects me really badly," said Bynum. "When they told me I wasn't eligible for welfare , that I made too much money, I was mad, upset, depressed. Still am."
Most nights, Bynum takes the bus from work to her mother's house to visit her children and puts them to bed about 8 p.m., she said. "Then I go back to my place." The Clinic Director
Last year James Speight Jr., director of an inner-city health center called East of the River, was worried about the impact of a 12.5 percent budget reduction for his six-year-old clinic that serves 14,000 patients in one of Washington's poorest areas.
As it turned out, the cut in National Community Health Center funding was more than double what he expected -- 27 percent -- and wiped out $200,000 of the clinic's $730,000 budget.
As a result, East of the River closed two of its three clinic sites, laid off eight of its staff of 64, cut the hours for dental hygiene, and eliminated nutrition counseling and social service..
With two satellite clinics closed in Deanwood and Anacostia, a growing number of patients are failing to keep appointments at the main clinic on East Capitol Street, Speight said.
Although the clinic's basic medical care has been maintained, Speight said, blood pressure and vision checks for walk-in clients have been eliminated and patients have to wait longer for help.
As an added headache, Speight said, his staff has had a "mushrooming" of paper work because of new Reagan administration procedures requiring more frequent medical exams for welfare and disability recipients.
"We have fewer people . . . and it was amazing. We look up and here come this flood of folks with forms that they have to get back to their social worker." Symphony Director
When the Reagan administration said it planned to reduce the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts by 50 percent, Barbara Serage, the managing director of the Fairfax Symphony thought it would mean an end to the federally supported "Hello Symphony" ensemble that traveled to 54 area schools.
The program, however, is still going, and the symphony now relies on the private sector for more of its $284,000 budget, a key Reagan goal.
Congress eventually restored $55 million of the National Endowment cut, but the months of uncertainty led the symphony to increase ticket prices to $44 from $36, step up fund-raising efforts and cut 12 schools from the program.
While Congress argued over the arts budget, Serage scheduled a reduced series of the program and managed to find a new source of financing -- the Washington Forest Foundation.
Fear of federal cuts resulted in an increase of $2,000 in county support. But the symphony lost $7,000 when the state reduced its challenge grants to local groups because it was no longer able to match the increase in private giving. The City of Fairfax also cut its $1,000 grant in half.
Ironically, the National Endowment, in an unexpected move, made a first-time direct grant of $2,000 to the symphony this April for the schools program, which may allow the program to reach 60 schools. The Steelworker
When the Reagan administration said it wanted to end federal Trade Adjustment Assistance payments given to U.S. workers out of a job because of foreign competition, Alan Fisher, 35, a laid-off electrician's helper at Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore, was justifiably concerned--he and his wife had been living on $140 a week in trade adjustment payments and $120 in jobless benefits.
A year ago, the Reagan administration stopped paying the trade adjustment benefits concurrent with unemployment, saving about $1 billion a year. Now, the federal payments are made only after state-paid jobless benefits are exhausted.
"By luck," Fisher found an apprenticeship at the steel mill one week before his federal payments would have ended, and he now repairs the electronic equipment that has automated much of the plant. The job pays $400 a week, $50 less than his old job, and he has suffered six weeks of layoffs.
Another federal cut is hitting the Fisher family nonetheless. Through seven months of joblessness, the family, which now includes an infant son, was cushioned by the $190 weekly income of his Alan's wife, Zoe.
But she is losing her job at the end of this month because of cuts in the U.S. Department of Labor's grants to promote worker health. A project director of the Maryland Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, she is leaving because the group lost $15,000 of its $60,000 grant.
"It's a fearful time, seeing all the guys and women I work with being destroyed because of this Depression," Fisher said. "Driving to work, I know what those empty parking places represent." Government Doctor
One day last year, Dr. Pat Mattingly stood in the hallway of the Public Health Service Hospital in Baltimore that he directed, surrounded by confused and fearful patients who had just heard the hospital was closing.
In one of the federal government's first budget cuts, $144 million was to be saved by shutting down the 183-year-old Public Health Service hospital system, including eight hospitals and 27 clinics nationwide.
Since then, most of the facilities have been taken over by the military or by other hospitals. But in Baltimore, Mattingly engineered the conversion to a private, nonprofit facility within the one month allotted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
On Nov. 20, the hospital was renamed the Wyman Park Health Center, and hired most of the 536 doctors, nurses and others who had been laid off by the government that day.
Although the result is a healthy private corporation serving most of the same patients, the forced speed of the conversion caused "unnecessary, hysterical trauma," according to Mattingly.
"We became a victim of the need to have a trophy on the wall. A several-year orderly transition would have prevented the disruptions of last fall," when Congress battled over the fate of the system and many patients were unsure day-to-day whether the hospital would remain open.
Those who did lose from the conversion were the commercial seamen who had received free treatment at the public health service facilities. "There was no grandfathering in of the retired merchant marine, and some were absolutely livid when we started sending them bills," said David Ross, vice president at Wyman Park.
The hospital was assisted by $9.3 million in federal conversion funds and a three-year Department of Defense contract to serve many of the same military patients as before. "In some ways, you hate to admit it, we're the proof of Reagan's argument for the private sector," said Ross. "We've got to admit there are some efficiencies we can make as a private center." The Welfare Mother
Linda Green, 34, a welfare recipient from Northeast Washington with a 14-year-old daughter, was afraid last year that she would lose $20 a month in food stamps because of a federal plan to deduct the cost of free school lunches from food stamp allotments. That cut, however, never came.
Yet Green said she still ran into trouble.
Last February, she missed an appointment with her social worker when she was supposed to fill out new welfare forms introduced by the Reagan administration.
New rules require clients to report income and family situation every month, rather than every six months, a change aimed at quickly weeding out ineligibles.
Green, a kidney transplant patient who suffers periodically from blood clots, was hospitalized at Howard University Hospital, she said, "But my social worker didn't know I was in the hospital."
"They pulled my record from the terminal, off the computer" and discontinued her $236 monthly welfare grant, said Green. Her only other income was $97 in food stamps.
Three eviction notices and several hundred dollars in borrowing later, Green is back on the rolls, but says she has still never received her March welfare check. Green said she has had to pay $50 in penalties and legal fees because of her missed check.
Green received an $11 monthly increase in welfare from the D.C. government this year, but her food stamps were cut $6 as a result. Her net gain of $5 a month, however, was outstripped by a $20 rent increase at her government-subsidized apartment. "I am further behind now," she said.
"I guess the thing that hurts me the most," said Green, "is Mrs. Reagan. How she goes literally out of her mind buying tablecloths and worrying about the decorative point of view for the White House, while most of us don't even have good food to put on that table. And you try telling a hungry child or hungry adult about elegance when they are hungry."