Friday, November 18, 2005

Thanks for Slashing those Student Loans!

Why do the Conservatives hate the poor so much? Ok, that is supposed to be a joke. But seriously, I am all for balancing your budget--trying to cut back on things you don't need, paying off debt, working on savings . . . I really am. But, I am always amazed at which programs Conservatives want to cut to pay off a huge deficit they created.

I don't care what anyone says, or whatever metaphor you want to use, I don't think Government should run like a business. Here are some reasons why:

(1) Government should be transparent and accountable. Today's top Corporations are far from transparent in their accounting practices (I 'heart' Eliot Spitzer).

(2) Government is a non-profit endeavor, working toward the betterment of each citizens through a variety of programs, offices, institutions that help people help themselves (that is, the goal of government is not to make a profit for its shareholders).

So, I woke up to read about the House Budget cuts this morning. I applaud the return of some moderate Republicans and thank them ("thank you") for caring about many of the programs slated to be cut.

Last night, moderate lawmakers secured another change that scaled back cuts to the food stamp program. Initially, the bill would have denied food stamps to the working poor who are not eligible for cash benefits under the welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Under the compromise, pushed by Rep. James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.), poor families could still receive food stamps if they receive certain kinds of work-support services, such as child care and transportation assistance, funded by welfare. The change reduced the food stamp cut from $796 million over five years to $675 million, preserving food stamp benefits for about 80,000 people but still cutting around 220,000 from the program, according to the Congressional Budget Office and liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

I am not at all sure what to make of this "compromise." Anyone who has worked with a welfare office or non-profit organization trying to help the "working poor" knows that it is already a nightmare to make ends meet and that getting child care and transportation assistance is nearly impossible. I also don't understand why you are eligible for food stamps if you have secured other welfare benefits? You give food to people who are drawing from a variety of programs, but not those on TANF who aren't eligible for cash benefits? Someone explain this to me . . .

These sort of cuts--
The proposed spending package for fiscal 2006 is smaller than this year's version, meaning high priorities such as disease research, rural health care, Pell grants and low-income heating assistance were allotted less money.

are also quite baffling. With an expensive winter--everyone know heating costs are supposed to skyrocket this year--you are likely to find a lot more homeless folks who cannot pay their bills. You are also cutting people out of educational opportunities with Pell grant cuts.

Oh lordy, why do I bother going over this stuff. It is just so predictable that to save costs, we close the doors on the poor. So much for our wake-up call after Katrina that we have a great deal of poverty here in this United States.