Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Bring It On

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Bring It On

Article excerpt

In the recently published collection of excerpts from William Sloane Coffin's speeches and sermons--Credo--appears this gem: "When the rich take from the poor, it's called an economic plan. When the poor take from the rich, it's called class warfare. It must be wonderful for President Bush to deplore class warfare while making sure his class wins."

The administration's 2005 federal budget amply illustrates Bill Coffin's point. As The Wall Street Journal put it, "The budget reflects the president's top political priorities--taxes and security--at the expense of other domestic programs."

Once again, the highest priority is more tax cuts for the wealthy, which have become the centerpiece of the Bush domestic policy. The budget proposes to make permanent the tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 that benefit high-income people, while not extending tax breaks for middle-income families. The second priority is further huge increases for the military and fighting terrorism. The budget proposes a 7 percent increase for military spending and a 10 percent increase for the Department of Homeland Security. And all that's before returning in the fall for what the administration admits will likely be as much as $50 billion in additional funding for the continuing occupation of Iraq.

And what of domestic priorities--especially the vast array of programs that benefit poor and working families? According to The New York Times, the budget calls for the elimination of 65 programs and cuts in 63 more. Those to be eliminated altogether include community development block grants, HOPE VI public housing renovation, rural housing and economic development, and juvenile crime prevention grants. Those cut include a 7 percent reduction for the Environmental Protection Agency, along with programs to deal with dropout prevention, support for local police and firefighters, and funds for guidance counselors in elementary schools.

Many other programs are frozen--which means that when inflation and an increase in those needing services are factored in, in reality they're cut as well. Freezing the maximum Pell Grant level at a time when more students are trying to attend college means smaller grants. Freezing funding for after-school programs means that more than 1 million children won't have access any longer to those programs (I wonder how they will occupy themselves in those critical post-school hours? …

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