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Waters: 'Devil is in details' of budget cuts

April 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Just hours after lawmakers struck a budget agreement, President Barack Obama surprised visitors at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday morning, declaring the government open for business.

House and Senate negotiators reached a deal less than an hour before the midnight deadline.

It cuts $38.5 billion from the budget over the next six months, but it leaves federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

"Because Congress was able to settle its differences, that's why this place is open today and everybody is able to enjoy their visit," Obama told the crowd.

But how could the billions in cuts affect Southern California?

Hundreds gathered at Jesse Owens Park in South Los Angeles for a community meeting organized by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) to discuss the impact of federal budget cuts on housing, safety, health, transportation, education and other services.

"What are they cutting? We want to know the details," the congresswoman said. "So while we applaud the fact that the government didn't shut down, we know the devil is in the details."

Waters reminded the crowd that HR-1, a plan passed a few months ago by the House, called for $61 billion in cuts that could hurt services including Head Start, afterschool programs and housing for the elderly.

"If this HR-1 bill cuts the Section 8 for the elderly, we're going to find our elderly out on the streets, homeless, without food," said Phyllis Willis, a senior services provider.

"We have seen children return to us after five, six years and they're letting us know what a difference Head Start made in their lives," sad Head Start teacher Rachel Reyes. "They're no longer sitting in back seats, we make sure our children are up front where it counts."

The congresswoman urged the crowd to write letters and take action.

There is another money battle looming as lawmakers must decide by this summer whether to let the government borrow more money, with its $14 trillion debt.