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Poisoned poor kids? Congress doesn't care 

Lowdown

Yes, we certainly do need to cut unnecessary and even frivolous federal spending, because — well, because it's unnecessary and frivolous.

So, Congress has targeted unnecessary oil subsidies and frivolous tax giveaways to billionaires, right?

Uh — no.

Instead, our learned solons have chosen to whack the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. This tiny, $30 million fund (not even a decimal point in the national budget) was slashed by 94 percent to only $2 million. Gutting this program will not save you and me a penny on our tax bills.

Well, retort the whackers, who needs this program, anyway? Some of the poorest families in America, that's who. Lead poisoning from contaminated paint and soil is a silent epidemic in our country, afflicting some 500,000 low-income children a year with permanent brain damage and loss of IQ. The only safe level of lead in a child's blood is zero, which is why this program to monitor blood levels of lead and help state health departments inspect homes and contain the poison was initiated.

Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. America has the science and programs to stop this insidious destruction of babies' brains. Yet, even the minuscule $30 million budget outlay that the program previously had couldn't touch the crisis of lead contamination in the 4 million homes in which vulnerable children live.

And now, Congress has refused this dollop of funding, responding instead to the wails of Wall Street billionaires that federal spending be cut to preserve their minuscule tax rates.

Imagine the national emergency declaration from Congress if 4 million homes of the super-rich posed a danger to their children.

But, then, we're told such thoughts amount to class war, and we can't have that, can we? To fight this outrage, go to leadsafe.org.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

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