...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Friday, February 13, 2004
      ( 1:34 PM )
Budgeting Us Out of Existence

There have been many stories in the last weeks about Bush's proposed budget. Most of them surround the fact that he entirely left out the money it will cost to pay for Iraq and his other "war" missions. It also failed to correctly predict what the tax cuts will do to the deficit. On top of that, they are now readjusting their figures on the new Medicare Theft Bill that Congress passed in December.

But there are other parts of the 2005 Budget that are even more distressing to me. Slowly and almost imperceptibly, the Bush administration is whittling away help for working parents, child care, our children's education and even food for hungry children. Capitalists like to pretend that our country will rise up to the level of it's richest consumers if only the market can take control, if only services are privatized and the government stops regulating. But history and our current society are proving just the opposite. Our society and culture will collapse if we do not care for the most vulnerable among us. Some examples.

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a national organization working to improve public policies to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States, says that Bush's 2005 budget:

fails to provide new investments to increase
access to the federal Child Nutrition Programs
....The President's budget anticipates that the
child nutrition programs will be reauthorized
in 2004, but contains no funds to expand
program access.

How about federal funding to help low income families have homes? The National League of Cities breaks down the HUD money for Section 8 housing:

While overall funding for the program increases
in FY 2005, upon closer analysis, the budget
actually proposes to cut funding to programs
and hurt local PHAs [Public Housing Authorities]
For example, the budget would cut Section 8
Contract Renewals funds from $17.53 billion in
FY 2004 to $16.92 billion in FY 2005. ...While on
its face the proposal looks promising, in reality
these changes translate into a new block grant
scheme to PHAs.

How about our children's education? This was supposed to get lots of help under the No Child Left Behind (NCL) Act. The 2005 budget seems to forget about those children its leaving behind.

The President proposed funding for Title I grants
to disadvantaged school districts at $13.4 billion.
This is still $7.1 billion below the amount authorized
by law, and would leave roughly 2.4 million
students behind.


The Administration proposes level funding of
$999 million for afterschool programs -- the
21st Century Community Learning Centers --
for the third straight year. This amount is less
than half of the $2 billion authorized by law.
If enacted, this level of funding would deprive
1.3 million children of afterschool services.

The buget will also cut child care assistance to poor families. This was a major part of the "welfare reform" act signed into law by Clinton. By taking away even more assistance for working parents to get child care for their children, that many more people will end up on welfare because they cannot work and leave their children alone. Remember, child care costs the same no matter how rich or poor you are - another inequity in our society. While child care may be only 5-10% of wealthy people's income, it is upwards of 30-50% of others (like me).

Why is it my child's responsibility to pay off this incredible deficit Bush has created? Why is it my child's fate to go to schools that can't pay their teachers or fun full-length years in the classroom? Why is it my child's future to inherit a police state where he has no rights? Why must my child face a society that actually proposes to Constitutionally cut certain of its members out of equal rights? There is something wrong with the way we are allowing our country to go. How we spend our money tells a lot about us.

The administration of George W. Bush has ballooned federal government beaurocracy and spending while significantly cutting revenue through its tax cuts for the rich. None of it can be fixed in a blink of an eye. But the last 3 years have started us down the wrong road. We need to begin correcting it now, or it may go beyond where we can fix it enough for our society to survive - at least in any recognizably equitable way.

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