As The World Turns…..

Indeed, the budget conversations in DC do seem like a soap opera. AND the world is watching.

If we do not finalize a new debt ceiling by Aug. 2nd, the faith and credit of the US government will be in default for the first time ever. As it is, several major international financial standards have reduced or threatened to reduce the US credit standing now due to our lack of resolution and clear commitment to our budget and debt situation.

These are indeed very tough decisions. Surely there are many details and considerations that must be understood both in the immediate future and in the long-term.

I do not profess to have the answers. However, I do know that if the budget that has passed the House, which would force WIC- the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – to turn away 200,000 to 350,000 eligible low-income women and young children next year (-2,300 to -4,000 women and children impacted in Oklahoma alone), is allowed to become law, then the values of the Congress are not the values of most Americans.

Similarly, the House budget plan converts SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamps) into a “block grant” program and cuts SNAP funding by $127 billion in the 2012‐2021 period. This would eliminate millions of Americans from the program at a time when they have been forced to seek help – many for the first time – due to the problems in our economy. Again, if this is allowed to happen, the values of this Congress are not the values of most Americans.

A blatant omission of Congress’s duties has been to omit consideration of revenue enhancements (i.e. raising revenue, restricting tax breaks, etc.). These discussions must be, but have not been, a part of any balanced discussion about the US budget and economy.

One does not need to know all the answers to understand that hungry Americans cannot be the productive workforce we need. Desperate people often behave badly and dangerously in their homes and communities when driven to despair. Babies cannot grow their brains and bodies for future health and productivity if adequate nutrition is withheld. Children cannot become the leaders we need for the future when hunger prevents them from learning, imagining, and creating the skills our country will need.

The US budget IS a moral document as much as a fiscal plan and guide. Cutting WIC and SNAP are immoral when no alternative is offered to feed America.

Let’s not be short-sighted

For several years we have been appropriately forewarned about the need to control the US federal debt. The current Administration provided important relief through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Some would say the Administration simply postponed the inevitable. Regardless, it is disingenuous to feign too much surprise that all states, except North Dakota and Alaska, face major budget challenges at this time.

The majority of Americans support that we get our fiscal house in order and cease from strangling future generations with this burden of debt. How we go about doing that is another matter of debate and great consternation to those of us who consider ourselves child and family advocates.

Current proposals to cut funding for WIC (Women, Infants, and Children supplemental food and health services program for low income families), Community Block Grants, Head Start, youth job training programs, community health centers, substance abuse treatment, and IDEA (funds for special education services) also threaten  those very future generations we propose to protect. If we deny our children – yes, they are our children – a sound foundation of health, education, housing, and individual opportunity, how do we expect them to have the skills to lead effectively, make decisions wisely and compassionately, and confront future challenges to society and government with determination when it becomes their turns at the reigns of this great country?

Why is production of more or new military weapons, including those recommended for elimination by Pentagon officials, so sacrosanct?  

Indeed, the America of tomorrow will need many of today’s youth as engineers, scientists, and members of our military ranks. We will also need doctors, teachers, nurses, and entrepreneurs.

The question is will they have those opportunities when we know today that developing young brains, encouraging healthy bodies, and providing stable  living environments are the keys to competent, secure and productive tomorrow?

Unto the least of these……

I, too, worry about the national debt and the legacy our grandchildren will face if we do not reverse our fiscal course. Yet, I cannot be comfortable with the proposed cuts announced yesterday from the House GOP: WIC cut of $378M, Community Services Block Grants $405M, Maternal and Child Health Block Grants $210M, Community Health Centers $1.3B.
I’m sure others have their own cuts that bring intense heartburn.
It is a tough, tough situation. WWJD?