Photo by tsevisPresident Obama released his budget proposal today. Among the cuts he proposes are cuts to home-heating aid (cuts that given Midwest and Northeast snowfall will hit middle, working class, and poor citizens pretty hard), and cuts to community service block grants (both of which will be cut in half).
Perhaps the best line?
“The debate in Washington is not whether to cut or spend,” said a senior administration official on Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity…”We both agree we should cut. The question is how we cut and what we cut.”
The most important political question is not how and what we cut, but whether we cut. By agreeing with the GOP and the austerity clan that cutting is necessary, Obama severely truncates his (and our) ability to use government for the ends we believe government should be used for, under the auspices of treating the government budget as if it were akin to a family budget. The problem here is three fold.
First, while we know tax cuts do not increase tax coffers, and do not increase productivity, we know that taxes do. Second we know that without the resources that government provides in time of need, middle, working class, and poor citizens are going to suffer severely. Third, every spending cut we make makes it rhetorically difficult to argue for tax increases because of the severe rightward shift in tax rhetoric that dates back to Reagan.
I did not drink the kool-aid. I understood what Obama stood for even as I revelled in the reality of a black President. But every step he makes in this direction puts us further and further in the hole. It makes it harder for government to provide a safety net for its citizens. It makes it much harder for us to even talk about providing a safety net for our citizens. That political question has been totally taken off the table. And it hasn’t been taken off the table by the GOP–their governing approach over the last thirty years hasn’t changed.
Some ask whether Obama is going to be a two-term President. The presidency still matters. If Obama loses we’re going to be in even worse shape. But if he wins…we’re going to be in worse shape.