DMI Blog

Maureen Lane

Why Are Politicians Encouraging Poverty? Again.

Besides the terrible heat we've been having, this August is also a beastly month for domestic social policy, at both the state and federal level. Of course, in New York we have Governor Spitzer's veto of the sustainable wage bills, and currently similar problems are brewing in the White House.

Congress this year seems to have been making an effort to protect children, workers, and those who are in vulnerable positions. Despite the widespread popularity of these programs, though, President Bush has threatened to veto appropriation bills that fund vital social programs. If these bills are vetoed, it would constitute a $1 billion cut in federal aid to New York. New York programs for vocational and adult education, clean drinking water, low-income energy assistance, and community development grants would see cuts ranging from 19 to 40 percent. Programs that help ensure 28,300 elderly New Yorkers have food would be eliminated, and after-school programs would be in danger of closing.

It is clear to me that the politics of policy-making are an extreme sport now. Wielding of power is the game Governor Spitzer and President Bush are playing, and in it we can see that the power of the executive has trumped good sense and good social policy.

But we have a chance to get beyond partisan politics and power thumping. People: young people, older adults and baby boomers, are beginning to awaken to the strain that partisan power play puts on national potential.

Progressive politics holds the powerless within the care of the community and the concern of the government. Progressive means dynamic policy making, and setting appropriations priorities with all the community in mind. Governmental food supplement to our elders must not be passed on to the already strained non-profit sector. Greater access to training and education for poor and low-income people is good for the individual and the economy. Stimulating, quality after school programs benefit kids today, and they will lead our future.

If President Bush does veto this bill, three New Yorkers have promised to vote to uphold the veto: Reps. Thomas Reynolds, R-Clarence, Randy Kuhl, R-Hammondsport, and Peter King, R-Long Island. Anyone living in the districts of these three representatives would do well to call them to task.

To be sure, there are those who say that vetoing the appropriations bills will enhance our future by holding the budget to a line. While a balanced budget is indeed important, it should not be made on the backs of those in our community who are the most vulnerable. It's time we all question the priorities of the players on the veto side of that line, and take responsibility for the health, safety, and well-being of our communities.

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Posted at 9:55 AM, Aug 10, 2007 in Welfare
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