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Pay attention

The Bush budget contains sweeping changes in social service programs

Overshadowed by talk of war and terror attacks, the Bush administration's domestic budget rumbles on. Oregon residents ' and the state's congressional delegation ' had better pay attention.

As written, the &

36;2.23 trillion budget submitted to Congress would make sweeping changes in how the federal government administers major public assistance programs, including Head Start, Medicaid and subsidized housing for low-income families.

At a time when Oregon and most other states are drowning in red ink, unable even to keep existing state services intact, the administration is proposing to dump huge, complex programs on state governments. The Department of Housing and Urban Development's venerable Section 8 program is just one example.

Section 8 subsidizes rent payments for qualifying low-income people. The program is famous for long waiting lists, but it can mean the difference between adequate shelter and homelessness for those who are patient enough.

The president's budget would convert three-quarters of the &

36;17 billion program into direct state grants. That means states would have to create an administrative system to handle that money ' read new bureaucracy.

Together with the shifting of administration to strapped state governments, the budget also would reduce some federal assistance, including a 25 percent cut in community services grants to distressed neighborhoods. All this, of course, while continuing to push for huge tax cuts benefiting the wealthiest Americans.

Administration officials say boosting the economy by encouraging investment to create jobs and raise wages will do more to help the poor than direct assistance. But the future of the economy ' certainly the short-term future ' is far from rosy. A key indicator of consumer confidence in the economy plummeted last week as concerns over war in Iraq mounted.

It behooves Oregon's senators and members of Congress to scrutinize these details of the budget very carefully to make sure they don't leave the state even worse off than it already is.

Well done

The Medford Police Department deserves congratulations for its successful handling of a domestic violence situation that could have ended in tragedy.

Responding to reports of an argument in an apartment Wednesday morning, officers took a stun gun to the door when they heard loud arguing coming from inside.

A man armed with knives had told his wife there would be a bloodbath if she called police, and disabled the telephone after she called 911. When the door opened, the man continued the argument and refused to drop the knives.

An officer then shot the man with a Taser, which fires prongs connected to wires that deliver an incapacitating electric shock. The shock allowed the officers to arrest the man, who was treated at the hospital to remove the prongs and then lodged in jail.

The police department purchased Tasers in 2000 to give officers another alternative to deadly force.

This is the kind of incident that, without the Taser, could have resulted in a shooting with a firearm, killing or seriously injuring the man. We salute the department for successfully defusing a potentially deadly situation.