By John Berry, Chief Executive Officer, St. Vincent de Paul Georgia
The recent publication of the proposed Federal Budget by the current occupant of the White House brought to mind two quotes. One was famously made by President Barack Obama in 2009 during discussions about his policies and budget priorities. He told the Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader at the time, during one contentious meeting “Elections have consequences.” The other quote was recently used by the Cincinnati Enquirer to comment on Governor John Kasich’s 2017; “Something for Everyone to Hate” (which I found out is actually the title of a 1999 hip-hop song by Sackcloth Fashion).
I think both thoughts have great applicability to the proposed budget.
While America was occupied by reality TV, what Hollywood star was dating who (or whom; I always get those confused), and other trivial nonsense, 57.9% of the eligible voting population took the time to vote in the 2016 election. 90 million eligible voters had something better to do, or didn’t care. And the results of that election have consequences. If that other almost 40% had voted, would the outcome have been different? None of us know the answer to that. But the fact of the matter is that in what many would say is the most dramatic fashion in a generation we are seeing the fact that elections matter.
And now, as a result of that election, we have a proposed federal budget that everyone can hate. I will give the current occupant of the White House credit (and in all honesty that is something I rarely do) for the fact that he told the American people exactly what he would do. Cut foreign aid, check. Build a wall, check. Destroy the EPA, check. Increase defense spending, check.
But some of those actions are not enough for some. For some, the fact that entitlements have not been cut is a something to hate. For some, the fact that spending isn’t cut more is something to hate. For some the fact that whole departments have been wiped out is something to hate.
For those of us who deal in human services and who work every day to help low income people lift themselves up this budget proposal has much to hate. It slashes support to the poor for housing, job training, heating, and legal assistance. It eliminates programs like Meals on Wheels for seniors, because we all know that Grandma and Grandpa are just slackers trying to get a free meal off the hardworking taxpayers of this country. Programs that help lift the poor out of unemployment and support them while they do so are eliminated because obviously it’s easier to just throw them out on the street than to invest in making them self-sufficient taxpaying citizens. Eliminating support to Community Development Financial institutions will make sure that those in some of the most depressed and distressed areas of this country will left helpless and without hope. And while throwing out federal support to people in need, ensuring they will have to rely on the nonprofit social sector for help, the budget eliminates a huge portion of the support to those same agencies; like the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) which is one of the most important grant programs for local poverty assistance agencies that we have. And the budget would target legal services “…to the old, the unemployed, the underprivileged, and the largely forgotten people of our nation…” so said by that famous liberal bleeding heart snowflake Richard M. Nixon.
Yes, elections have consequences. So if this is the vision of America that you celebrate and want to see us become you must be happy; what you wanted to happen, happened. But if this vision of America is something that disturbs you and makes you angry, you have work to do. Because elections have consequences.