Indiana advocates for children and education are worried by President George W. Bush's proposed budget. The budget Bush submitted to Congress would cut funding to some of the programs local advocates say are just what Michigan City needs.
According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Bush budget would:
- Freeze Head Start funding.
- Cut 400,000 children from the rolls of families that receive child care assistance.
- Eliminate funding for the Even Start family literacy program.
- Freeze funds for teacher training and professional development. Some of that training is required by the president's own No Child Left Behind Act.
In Louisiana, a call goes out to the African American community for political action on social justice issues:
We have come out of a period of national mourning for several legends of the civil rights movement which has included the solemn words and actions by the president of the United States, all meant to give the impression of respect for their legacy. But however much one acknowledges this show of respect from the White House, it is in the doing that one really respect the legacy of their life work....it is wise to see how policy proposals in the president's new budget lives up to the human needs legacy raised by the justice movement.... driving down the deficit now means driving down spending for the social and economic needs of citizens in this country. (* my emphasis) This is the budget position Republicans have wanted to create all along and the so-called "war against terror" has helped them achieve it. This must become an increasing part of Black economic thinking and a cause for political action.
David Broder explains how the Bush budget is based upon political trickery and base dishonesty.
..To fail ever to count the cost of the tax cuts in the years after the sunset dates ... would represent one of the largest and most flagrant budget gimmicks in recent memory..." ......the budget Bush submitted simply assumes the tax cuts have been made permanent — and thus includes them in the “baseline” for all future years. The effect, according to the [Center Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’] analysis, is that “legislation to make these tax cuts permanent will be scored as having no cost whatsoever."
In California, it is clear that the Bush budget takes into no meaningful consideration the effect that their budget cuts will have on Family Values:
Federal budget cuts to child welfare services may cost California hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade and short-circuit efforts to keep thousands of children with family members, local county welfare officials and policy experts say. The cuts, advocates say, are a direct effort to sidestep a federal court decision that helped open up payments to thousands of relatives who are caregivers in several Western states. These cuts could immediately affect the care of some 4,000 to 5,000 children in California alone, according to the advocates.
From a New York article, we see the real and damaging effects the 2006 federal budget will have on education and competition, two alleged priorities that President Bush mentioned in his most recent State of the Union speech (Did he mean what he was saying?):
The Committee for Education Funding (CEF) called a press conference to inform the public that America is losing more of its competitive edge against countries such as India, whose pool of highly educated and employable individuals has outpaced that of the U.S. The reason? Reduction of education funds in the 2006 federal budget...The President and Congress must make significant and sustained federal investment in America's students a top priority in the fiscal year 2007 budget..
Unfortunately, President George Bush’s 2007 budget may make students (in Idaho and beyond) pay the price...while the banks are enriched.
The major change that students will notice if the budget is passed is a change from a variable interest rate student loan to loans with a fixed rate. The interest rate is currently at 5 percent for a Stafford Loan. The proposed changes will fix the rate at 6.8 percent. For parents’ PLUS Loans, currently at 6.1 percent, the rate will go up to 8.5 percent..The fixed rates  will help banks save billions of dollars in interest they lose due to the lower rates.
More on Education and the 2007 Budget:
The president's 2007 budget plan calls for cutting Education Department spending by, among other things, eliminating a major loan program to help needy students attend community college. Last week, Pennsylvania's Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees education, labeled the proposal "scandalous" and "insufficient."
The 2007 Budget Proposal will jeopardize plans to improve care for the elderly in California's nursing homes.
Meet Jim Wallis, the Chancellor's religious guru He doesn't like the Iraq war. And he's no friend of George Bush. So who exactly is the American evangelical pastor and why has Gordon Brown agreed to endorse his latest work? by Gaby Hinsliff, political editor Guardian Unlimited Feb 5, 2006
Read about how American pastor Jim Wallis has developed an unexpected friendship with UK Chancellor Gordon Brown.
he is forced to support moves he probably opposes and certainly would not initiate himself were he in charge. During last year's election campaign he gave a one-word endorsement for the Iraq war - but this week we learned that he has lent his name to a new book by the US evangelist Jim Wallis that brands the war "unjust"....He cannot speak freely or in his own terms, but has to stick to a script he is not yet writing himself..
Bush Pulls Rug Out From Under Great Lakes Restoration
Folks living in the Great Lakes region (myself included) are disappointed to learn that President Bush's proposed budget cuts will likely sink his administration's master plan for restoring the Great Lakes region - less than two months after it was adopted! Talk about the punch-to-the stomach feeling upon learning that you were lied to. Bush has proposed to cut $200 million more from the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water State Revolving Fund during the 2007 fiscal year. Here in New York State, $175.9 million in new State and Federal funds had been earmarked in the 2004-05 budget for the State Revolving Fund low-interest loan program to build and rehabilitate municipal sewage treatment facilities. The purpose of this program was to provide grants to states for long-term financing for construction of wastewater treatment facilities and implementation of state management plans. In the Great Lakes basin, funds from CWSRF programs have been used to implement agricultural best management practices (BMPs). Here in New York state, the state government used program funds to purchase land and easements to protect our sourcewater.
The White House, in its online analysis posted on its Web site, said the President's budget "continues to support state and tribal efforts to improve water quality through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund," even with less money budgeted.
It's a hollow statement. Those who expected good faith from the White House now feel betrayed.
In New York State, I'm sure that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer will get a boost in his already-high popularity ratings by speaking out about this betrayal of the public trust.
Today's quote is from Alternet's "Russert Watch" - it's about the March 5th show, with the appearance of former Democratic Senator John Edwards and Republican Jack Kemp:
"..the crowning moment of the show was Tim's last line, "It's nice to have a Democrat and a Republican sit here together." Yes - isn't that just lovely? Maybe, and here's just a little suggestion, Tim, try it again next week."
Be careful of conventional wisdom you hear at the water cooler about Thomas Friedman's "Flat Earth" theory, popularized by his best-selling book. Richard Daughty, who is frequently quoted in Barron's, looks at the truth behind this commonspeak about the glorious benefits of unregulated globalization. If you're asking me to be patriotic and if you're holding the lable of isolationist over my thinking head, think about logic when you ask me to swallow the lines about free trade and expect me to ignore the loss of bargaining power for so many of my fellow American workers. From an article at The Daily Reckoning:
In America, low-level earners can't get ahead because they have no bargaining power. They are competing with a billion workers in Asia willing to do the same work for less than one-tenth the cost. And in China, there is also growing income inequality between those who have joined the global economy and those who have not. Some 500 million people live in coastal cities in China and participate in modern commerce, but there are another 700 million who still live in the countryside. While the cities grow richer, the poor in China are left behind, like America's industrial workers.
In short, the world is not getting flatter at all. It is getting flatter in some areas, and steeper in others. There is less difference between China's industrial workers and those in America, but the difference between the globalized wage slave and the capitalists who employ them is growing.
Beneath the surface of Friedman's flat Earth, the pressure is growing - either in China or in America and sooner or later, it is bound to explode.
Social justice for people living right here in my United States is going to be an important moral, political, and patriotic issue in years to come. There will be much debate. As American low-wage earners are hurt further, there will be some realization about the ways that our nation's Monetary policy has effected our Foreign policy. Americans will see that elective (pre-emptive) wars were made necessary because of a systematic and voluntary succumbing to a new world order. The hypocrisy is clear when someone like the current President gives me moral lessons on loving the world and being a 'good patriot' through my support of free trade and selling out my nation's security to foreign nations while at the same time, he's calling me an unpatriotic isolationist when I see that American low-wage workers are suffering and social programs to support them are being drowned a Norquistian bathtub - or when I point out the reality of what his administration has done in Iraq and the many lies that were told to get us there.
We have to ask ourselves - what does it mean to be an intelligent patriot? I certainly wouldn't suggest that we acknowledge the Bush administration's definition.
Richard Nixon enacted, by imperial decree, a purely fiat dollar, repudiating solemn promises to redeem in gold. After that, with the printing presses running 24/7, the pax Americana could be “financed.” To understand the connection requires that we understand two fields of study that are usually kept separate: foreign-policy analytics and monetary economics. It is in understanding this relationship that our authors excel. Alan Greenspan had pretended to be against it all, but given the chance for power, he happily repudiated his restrictionist gold-standard views and supplied the credit for the expensive wars, the expensive bread, and the expensive circuses that have wrecked empires from Rome to London. His successor promises even more of the same..[..]There is no inherent reason that a plumber with a U.S. flag pin should earn more than one with a crescent moon. In India, real incomes have doubled in the last 10 years. In the U.S. they have been stagnant or worse. The inequitable draining of the world’s resources into America, made possible by the military empire and its financial structure since Bretton Woods, is also coming to an end.
Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake has made some caustic and unfair comments about Senator John Edwards at the Huffington Post based upon his brief appearance on Meet The Press, and it pains me to see the Democratic party so disunified that there is no room for one of its leaders to say something that is fundamentally true without being publically crucified for it. We've lost many elections because we are not standing together on so many issues. Teenage pregnancy and the effect it has on Poverty is a reality that we cannot turn our heads away from. After quoting John Edwards' comments about teenage pregnancy on Meet the Press, Ms. Hamsher says:
There's really nothing quite like a panel full of white male millionaires scolding poor African American women about their reproductive irresponsibility, particularly in a conversation about the victims of Hurricane Katrina and in a week where South Dakota has passed a bill guaranteeing every rapist the right to have his fetus carried to term because women just really need to learn to keep their legs together. Who knew the bigot vote was even in play?
There is absolutely nothing bigoted about speaking publically about supporting social programs geared to curb unwanted pregnancies which produce babies that will not be raised with the love and/or caring of a planned-for and wanted child. Poverty begets poverty - it's a vicious cycle. Ms. Hamsher points unwarranted blame toward Senator Edwards for issues that he has never supported, such as the attempted killing of teh legal right to choose issue in South Dakota. Senator Edwards has had absolutely nothing to do with South Dakota's new law, and we know it. The fact is that Senator Edwards supports a woman's right to choose. This intellectually dishonest melding of issue upon issue, accompanied with unfair finger-pointing, causes me to lose trust that the Democratic party can "keep it real." Some are disappointed that Senator Edwards failed to take major swings with his public bashing-bat at the Bush administration while he had a few rare moments of NBC's time. We tend to forget that our leaders are speaking to all of America when they are on these Sunday morning talk shows, and given what we know about the right-tilt of these awful Sunday morning talk shows, the mission for any Democrat would seem to be to send out a rational and hopeful message straight to the heart of the center of America. Face it. Most people are fucking sick of all the negativity and want to hear something hopeful, positive, and progressive from their Democratic leaders.
Just One Set of Facts in a Nation of Many Communities: I recently worked for an African American woman here in my own community who has taken on a different job in our nonprofit organization. She looks at the photos on her office wall of faces that remind her of herself. She knows what it's like to grow up with limitations. A native of the same area in which she now works, she has seen her share of crime and violence. A woman who had the opportunity to go to college and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in human development and went on to get a Masters in Social Work, she is now the coordinator of an after-school program at a community center in a neighborhood where kids grow up dirt-poor and underprivileged. Her program includes a pregnancy prevention program to more than 50 inner-city students, male and female. She has said this:
"I'd say the biggest problem in the community is a lack of hope. It can lead to violence, teen pregnancy, and people dropping out of school. It's easier to have hope when you have support and people surrounding you who are positive role models."
Last year, all eight Senior high school students in her program graduated from high school and some have gone on to college. That's a major achievement for this program and for these kids. One look at this should show you what a damned hard job it is to make the slightest bit of difference in this country. To see a respected and prolific blogger like Jane Hamsher trashing Senator Edwards for pointing out certain hard truths - while neglecting the fact that he supports some very-much needed social programs and government incentives to help the poorest in our society is bitterly disappointing, to say the very least. If we political bloggers can't issue realistic, rational, intellectually honest, and fair critiques, we risk being seen as little more than reactionaries. I guarantee you that that perception about our party will serve to secure the Democrats' legacy as losers. We need to appeal to hard truth and hope in finding solutions to the toughest problems if we're ever going to be seen as serious leaders.
On a related note, Matt Stoller, who trusts in the potential of John Edwards as a serious 2008 contender, says that he would have liked for Senator Edwards' convictions to have come across more strongly on his MTP appearance.
Eason Jordan to New Organizations: You're Lost/Admit It.
I'm sure you remember the resignation of Eason Jordan from CNN. He's now with an organization called Iraq Safety Net and he's telling the news organizations that they've lost their own way in Iraq, citing a deficiency in the Committee to Protect Journalists for an inaccurate reporting of the number of journalists killed in Iraq.
In a USA Today article about the state of journalism in the Middle East by Souheila Al-Jadda, we are reminded of the dangers of reporting from Iraq and the greater Middle East:
Being a journalist in the Middle East can have fatal consequences, where the road to freedom is often paved with blood.
I think about Bob Woodruff and his family often..and pray for his return to good health - and to ABC News. Newsday has an update:
Woodruff's doctors at Bethesda Medical Center in Maryland "are slowly bringing him out of sedation and are very pleased with the progress they've seen so far, especially in the last few days."
Cathie Levine, spokeswoman for "World News Tonight," said yesterday there were no additional updates. Vogt, not as seriously injured as Woodruff, checked out of Bethesda Medical Center and returned to his home in France last week.
In his statement, Westin said of Woodruff, "We've come some distance, but we still have a long way to go," though he added that "in another sign of Bob's moving along his path to recovery, the doctors have said that in the next few weeks it is reasonable to expect that he will be able to move to facilities in the New York area, bringing him closer to his family, his home and the support structure here."