Skinny budget: Federal budget proposal abandons citizens in favor of defense contractors
MARC H. MORIAL | 4/10/2017, 2:28 a.m.
National Urban League
“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” – Mahatma Ghandi
Some people look at a budget proposal and see numbers. At the National Urban League, we look at a budget proposal and see people.
The Trump administration’s preliminary federal budget proposal – the so-called “skinny budget” – is a massive transfer of resources from vital services and fundamental social protections into unrequested and unnecessary military spending. It represents a conscious decision to abandon children and other vulnerable Americans to sickness, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance and unemployment, while fattening the coffers of defense contractors.
The Americans who will be abandoned are not simply numbers on a ledger. They are the thousands of Americans aged 55 and older who have found stable, sustaining jobs through the National Urban League’s Urban Seniors Jobs Program. They are the college-age youths, at risk or entangled in the judicial system, whose lives have been transformed by the education, mentoring, counseling and job training they found in the National Urban League’s Urban Youth Empowerment Program. They are the tens of thousands of families who have realized the American Dream of homeownership via the National Urban League’s housing counseling and foreclosure prevention programs. They are the middle school and high school students getting a new glimpse of their own educational and professional potential from the role models in National Urban League’s Project Ready Mentor program.
The budget proposal doesn’t cut dollars. It cuts jobs. It cuts educations. It cuts homeownership. It cuts the only hope of a better life for many young people and families.
We have called the “skinny budget” a jobs killer and a dreams killer, but it also would be a literal killer. Without the vital assistance of the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, people will surely die in the winter cold. Those who can’t afford to pay their heating bills resort to unsafe methods like a kitchen stove or a kerosene heater, leaving them vulnerable to death by toxic fumes or house fires. Abandoning biomedical research means more Americans will die of otherwise curable diseases. Gutting the Environmental Protection Agency means smog, ozone and mercury will trigger worsening asthma attacks, especially in young children, along with heart and lung ailments, and lead to premature death. Abandoning Violence Against Women programs mean more women will be stalked, harassed, battered and, yes, killed.
The “skinny budget” is an act of crippling cruelty, a shortsighted plunder of resources to benefit the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Stopping this disaster is a matter of national urgency, one to which the National Urban League and the Urban League Movement is wholeheartedly committed. We urge all Americans to let their Congressional representatives know we won’t stand by while American ideals are abandoned.
Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.