Obama’s budget forsakes the poor

With his latest budget, President Obama reveals that he cares little about the poor and working class in the United States.

The proposed $3.73 trillion budget targets “nondefense discretionary spending,” including many programs that benefit low-income Americans.

Obama’s budget would make the lives of millions more difficult, and it would lower their horizons significantly.

For instance, the president proposes cutting $2.5 billion from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This program helps families heat or cool their homes, and Obama’s cut would eliminate this crucial support for 3.5 million low-income households.

And as far as helping poor and working people advance, this budget actually kicks the ladder down. It freezes or reduces funding for everything from Head Start, summer jobs for youth and afterschool initiatives to GED programs and Pell grants.

Obama’s budget also undermines the very type of community-based organizations that gave him his start in Chicago — and his progressive reputation.

The administration intends to slash half the $350 million in annual spending on community service block grants that are necessary to help revive some of the hardest-hit areas in the country. The official unemployment rate for black Americans is 15.7 percent (versus the overall rate of 9.0 percent), and black youth unemployment hovers at more than twice that level. Yet Obama proposes cutting grants that enable local governments to deliver services in communities with heavy concentrations of poor and minority residents.

That’s a fine how do you do. The nation’s first black president, a man whose own single mother depended on food stamps to feed her family, is willing to ditch the poor.

Less than two months after signing $858 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans into law, Obama is abandoning many of the neediest, proving that they have gotten precious little from his administration beyond the symbolism of his presence in the White House.

Kevin Alexander Gray, is the author of the recently published books “Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics” and “The Decline of Black Politics: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama.” He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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