Reagan budget cuts spare 'truly needy'

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

President Reagan has given his first indication of those "needy" Americans who will be spared his administration's budget austerity cuts. Some $201 billion in so-called entitlement benefits for the retired, veterans , and youth -- earmarked in the Carter administration's $739 billion budget for fiscal 1982 -- will be protected by the Reagan administration when it outlines its new economic plan next week.

The "truly needy" are those Americans "solely dependent on government benefits to survive," a White House spokesman said.

In a report to the President in a Cabinet- level session Feb. 10, David A. Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget and spearhead of the spending-slash action, said the OMB and Cabinet department task forces had identified 90 percent of the reductions to be revealed by Mr. Reagan Feb. 18.

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The safeguarding of entitlements spending is intended to fulfill the President's campaign pledge to protect both "essential programs" and "benefits to the needy," a spokesman said. Changing the spending allocations would require changes in federal law, which the administration does not intend to propose.

To be protected:

* The basic social security retirement program, affecting 32 million retired workers, dependents, and survivors. President Carter had budgeted $140 billion for fiscal 1982 starting this October. The cost-of-living allowance, based on the current consumer price index, will not be changed. Decisions have yet to be made on other social security programs, such as college loans to survivors.

* Veterans Administration benefits totaling $13 billion for nearly 5 million people.

* The school lunch program -- $2.1 billion for 9.5 million students.

* Medicare -- $45.4 billion in services for an anticipated 28.6 million persons.

* The Headstart program -- $950 million for 374,000 preschool, inner-city, low-income or disadvantaged youths.

* Supplemental security income -- $7.9 billion for 4.2 million blind, elderly poor, or disabled persons.

* Summer youth jobs program -- $870 million for 665,000 youths.

Later this week, President Reagan will again meet with his Cabinet economic team "for an hour or two" to make more budget de cisions, a spokesman said.

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