Someone once told me that budgets are moral documents. I think they said that while I was trying to balance my checkbook and the only thing that came to mind was distinctly immoral. But, of course, they didn't mean it that way. Or rather, they didn't mean it related to my opinion of the phone company.
They meant that budgets are a reflection of one's priorities. Is keeping the heat on more important than keeping the cable? (Yes, now that The Wire is off the air.) Is buying fresh vegetables as pressing as getting that good bottle of wine? (This week I think I can do both.) Budgets say what we care enough about to spend money on and the amount of money we spend reflects the magnitude of that priority.
Which brings me to President Barack Obama's first budget. It has been a long time since I have felt good about the choices that our national budget reflects. Not only does it treat the American people as adults by its lack of gimmicks and realistic assumptions, but it emphasizes long-term investments, rather than short-term fixes.
For starters, after years of shrinking commitments, the Obama budget increases our investment in programs that fundamentally improve the quality of life for low- and moderate-income families. The budget not only includes programs that payoff over the long term, such as Head Start and Title I but it addresses the immediate needs of those families hardest hit by the current economic downturn. Healthcare programs, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) all receive new investments.
President Obama's proposed budget also takes on the interconnected problems of our economy. It puts us on the road to improving our healthcare system, investing in education, addressing climate change with green jobs, and getting America back to work.
A critical example of how important health care reform is to our economy is what is happening now to the American automotive industry. Health care costs add $1,525 to the price tag of every General Motors (GM) vehicle; the company spent $4.6 billion on health care in 2007 , more than it paid for steel. If we are serious about solving this problem, our national budget will reflect it. And it does. To the tune of $634 billion invested over 10 years.
We at ACORN may not like everything in the budget (for example, we are still looking for that $4 billion dollars that partisan activists keep say we are getting - which is too bad, because I was really looking forwarded to switching from Gallo to Chateau Lafitte), but the overall priorities reflected in the document, its fundamental morality, make it worthy of our full support.
We have to fight for this budget as if the future of the country depended on it. Because it does. We have an opportunity to fundamentally reorder the priorities of our country and put an initial down payment on our future. We know conservatives are going to be doing everything they can to stop this from happening. This time we cannot be out-organized, the way conservatives did during the first days of the economic recovery fight. This time our phone calls are the ones that need to run 100-1 in favor.
As part of the Rebuild and Renew America Now Campaign, ACORN is going to be doing our part. Starting this week, we will be holding kick-off events in key Congressional Districts around the country. We will be educating our members, the public, and elected officials about the absolute necessity to pass this budget.
We need your help. Can you stand with ACORN and organizations from the environmental, labor, education, human needs, and civil rights community to stand up in favor of President Obama's budget? The answer needs to be a resounding "YES!" because, if we want change to come to America, we're going to have to fight for it.
Follow Bertha Lewis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@TheBlackInst