Think Progress: Austerity is Leaving Children Sick with Lead Poisoning

I am excited to join Center for American Progress, as their Associate Director for Fiscal Policy. My work focuses on the tax and spending decisions within the federal budget. I recently published my first article on Think Progress, zooming in on just one of those decisions: funding for lead removal.

From my Think Progress post:

The House Appropriations Committee recently approved legislation to cut lead removal programs by more than half, leaving children in homes that are poisoning them every day. Decades of progress in protecting children from lead poisoning will come to an end if House Republican budget cuts become law.

Lead poisoning is among the most important and overlooked national public health problems. Exposure to lead causes permanent brain damage, and half a million American children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Lead poisoning is linked to lower IQs,learning disabilities, and even criminal behavior. The connection between lead poisoning and crime is so strong that scholars have even linked the prevalence of leaded gasoline to the overall crime rate.

You can read the full post here. A few months earlier, Kevin Drum wrote an excellent article in Mother Jones about the scourge of lead poisoning and its link to crime. Here’s part of his response to the House Republican budget cuts:

Earlier this year, when I wrote my big piece about lead and crime, I hoped that maybe someone important would see it and actually do something constructive. It’s always nice to make a difference, after all. But as Harry Stein points out today, that’s not exactly what happened. Here’s the House GOP budget for 2014:


Drum’s full response is here. Lead removal is funded in larger legislation for transportation and housing programs. While the House may have missed Drum’s article, the Senate’s version of this bill fully funds lead removal. That legislation is expected to come to the Senate floor this week, and will be part of a larger budget showdown at the end of September. That’s when the current spending bill funding the government expires, and new legislation must be passed to avoid a government shutdown.


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