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Pelavin: We call on members of Congress to craft a budget that reflects the true level of need in our nation, and provides a means for Americans to achieve more for themselves and the generation to come.
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Washington, D.C., February 5, 2008 – In response to President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget, Mark. J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
As our nation faces the prospect of growing economic troubles, the President’s budget, this year perhaps more than any other during his term in office, will challenge our government’s ability to respond to the needs of its citizens.
This record-breaking budget includes cuts of 4% in funding for domestic discretionary programs unrelated to defense and national security. At the same time, the budget includes a more than 8% increase in funding over this year for spending on defense and national security programs. The need to secure our nation is clear and unquestioned. But the impact of an ongoing war now costing taxpayers $10 billion each month is similarly clear: there is less money to be spent on programs that help Americans at home.
The Reform Movement has long held that a budget must be judged by how it succeeds or fails in fostering the sanctity of every human life. It is disheartening to see just how poorly the President’s FY ’09 budget provides for the well-being of the least powerful, least advantaged members of society.
Under the proposed budget, less children will be served by Head Start, less funds will be available to help those who rely on Medicare and Medicaid, and less families will have access to child care funding. It has been said that sometimes, less is more. In this case, no doubt, Americans will be left to do less with less.
The bright spots in the budget are few, but we applaud the President’s decision to keep level the funding for Title X, which provides essential family planning services to women across the country, as well as the increases in HIV/AIDS funding and foreign aid, including Israel. The challenge now facing our nation is how to we can best help low income Americans end the cycle of poverty. We know that without a solid foundation provided by programs like Head Start, quality child care, and SCHIP (federal funding for which, under this budget, is likely to lead to reductions in coverage in the coming years) children will have fewer tools with which to build a better future.
We know, of course, that the President’s proposal is the first, not the last, step in enacting a federal budget. We call on members of Congress to craft a budget that reflects the true level of need in our nation, and provides a means for Americans to achieve more for themselves and the generation to come. Working for such a budget must be, and will be, one of our highest legislative priorities.