Winning the Future...But Not For All
Obama's Budget Invests in Education and Green Economy, but Leaves Many Behind
Despite President Obama’s State of the Union assurances, much of the proposed 2012 budget is carried on the backs of low-income families, said the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The President was faced with difficult choices, and while investments in energy and education are laudable for their exciting prospects of a reenergized and innovative economy, drastic cuts to pay for these programs come with real human impacts.
“There is much to be praised in the President’s budget,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “We have called on the federal government to balance our needs now with our investments in the future, and in many ways, this budget achieves that. The plan is forward looking with investments in schools, nutrition, and energy that will provide more children with a high quality education, help families to put food on the table, and create the opportunities and new industries that will jump start America’s economy. Addressing the needs of today’s vulnerable, increases to WIC and restorations to SNAP will keep millions of food insecure children out of hunger. And funding for Head Start puts kids on a path to success while investments in education and alternative energies will help them make the most of those opportunities. Funding to develop clean energy and improve the quality of America’s public schools are investments that will build a new workforce of green-collar jobs, spur economic growth, increase energy security, and protect our environment.
“But in other ways, low-income Americans seem to be paying the price for attempts to lower the deficit and pay for these programs,” said Gutow. “Making dramatic cuts to human needs programs like LIHEAP and Community Development and Community Service Block Grants hurt the families and individuals who count on these benefits to help pay for heating and cooling or delivery of needed services. The President’s commitment to a college education for all of America’s youth through the continuing support of the Pell Grant program needs to be balanced against the unfortunate cut to the year round grants depended on by single parents, full time workers, and others. We are concerned that education remain accessible and will work with Congress to ensure that investments in our future workforce can be shared by all. We appreciate the need for belt tightening to control ballooning deficits, but a path to recovery that excludes so many is not an acceptable option.”
“Fiscal discipline is imperative and we must move forward in achieving a more sensible balance in our budget,” said JCPA Chair Dr. Conrad Giles. “But while addressing the deficit is our responsibility to future generations, we must not do it at the expense of abdicating our moral and ethical responsibilities of today. This plan comes as Congress considers the 2011 Continuing Resolution proposed in the House of Representatives, which would go much further than the President’s plan and slash community services like food safety programs, community health centers, and Americorps.
“We know that more austere proposals lay ahead. But crafting the budget can be a reminder of government at its best: providing a safety net through which no one should fall if stricken by unemployment or illness; a platform from which the worst off can lift themselves up to compete and contribute equally in our economy. These are the values we hope guide Congress as they begin to examine this budget proposal.”