Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Priorities all out of whack

Be sure to read P-I columnist Joel Connelly's column this morning: Bush budget will devastate social services in state.

Connelly, of course, is talking about Bush's proposed budget, which shows you how little Bush cares about America's communities. Indeed, Bush's priorities are all out of whack - we're spending billions of dollars rebuilding in Iraq while cutting funding for our own communities back home.

Here's an excerpt from Connelly's column that illustrates how painful these cuts will be, and how the Administration is oh so very clever at coining terms and titles that describe exactly the opposite of what their policy really does.
The Bush administration has perfected the art of using language as an instrument of disguise.

"Compassionate conservatism" was designed to differentiate the presidential candidate from the excesses of the Republican-run Congress.

"Clear Skies" disguises proposed changes to clean-air regulations that would allow large power plants to increase pollution.

In its latest budget, the administration has come up with another whopper: "Strengthening America's Communities."

How, one asks, would America's communities be "strengthened" by proposed deep cuts in the Community Development Block Grants program?

The federal program currently sends $14 million to the city of Seattle each year. Local organizations bid on it. The money revitalizes blighted properties, creates jobs, provides temporary housing to the homeless and services the elderly and disabled and victimized.

The Downtown Emergency Service Center receives almost $500,000 in block grant money each year. Using city money as well, it underwrites emergency shelter and hygiene services annually for more than 5,000 adults. As well, it gives referrals for counseling, job training and permanent housing.

The Courtland Place project in Rainier Valley redeveloped 1.3 acres into 208 units of senior rental housing and 9,000 square feet of ground-floor rental space. Half of the rental units are affordable for low-income seniors. The project cost $24 million. Block grant money contributed $2.5 million of the total.

Croft Place, in the Delridge neighborhood, is a 21-unit project slated for completion this summer. It will provide 21 units of low-income housing, seven of which will go to formerly homeless families.

Total cost is $5.89 million, including $1.9 million in federal block grant and city housing levy dollars.
These cuts simply aren't defensible. Only libertarian extremists would try to defend these poor choices and misplaced priorities. Most Republicans will look the other way, deny the cuts are being made, or search for some excuse on which to justify it.

But the cuts don't stop there, either:

Under the proposed budget, 13,500 recipients in Washington would lose benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

A total of 1,400 more Washington children would be unable to attend a Head Start program.

About 8,000 Washington families would lose rental assistance vouchers, and 3,800 families stand to lose low-income home energy assistance.
The Administration and its GOP allies have turned a deaf ear to the cries of America's poor and homeless. Low income families are the last constituency the President of the United States cares about.

That is a terrible shame. But it's not a surprise, either. The GOP has a loud propoganda machine which continually pumps out lies and employs clever use of language to manipulate people into supporting a movement that really hurts them.


Most Americans would probably react negatively to what's in this budget. But most Americans don't know (or maybe they don't care) what's in the budget. They should. The budget effects every American in some way or another.

It's up to us to tell the truth about the Administration's real priorities. If we don't do it, nobody will. It's a very difficult challenge. But we must answer it to the best of our ability. We're in this for the long run. If we cannot succeed, America's future will be bleak indeed.

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