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Carolyn Lukensmeyer

Carolyn Lukensmeyer

Posted: March 7, 2011 02:47 PM

Invest in Democracy, Don't Cut it


While our nation invests billions of dollars to promote democracy abroad, Congress is considering significant cuts that threaten democracy here at home.

The vote by the House of Representatives to cut more than $61 billion from the federal budget included the elimination or severe reduction of a wide variety of important programs that ensure that Americans are informed and have a chance to play an active role in our civic life.

The elimination of funding to NPR, PBS and AmeriCorps have received a fair amount of attention since the House vote. Less well known is the fact that the House budget slashed funds to civic and history education programs, public financing of Presidential elections, regulatory enforcement of net neutrality, election reform grants from the Election Assistance Commission, and immigrant civic integration grants.

These cuts will make no significant impact on reducing our nation's deficit. They will, however, severely hurt our country.

For some communities, local NPR and PBS stations are the only source of serious reporting. National service programs like AmeriCorps are schools for citizenship, strengthening communities and our democracy at the same time. Public financing of Presidential elections give average citizens and small donors a major role in financing our presidential campaigns. Grants for immigrant civic integration provides new citizens with the civic skills they need to take part in our democracy. Civic education programs are essential for ensuring that young people have the skills and knowledge they need to become active citizens.

The Campaign for Stronger Democracy, a new coalition of democracy reformers, has recently formed and has created a resource to help rally supporters against these dramatic cuts.

It is times like these that everyone who cares about the health of our democracy needs to come together and fight to protect the vital institutions and programs that anchor our democracy. I hope you will join me in raising your voice about this important issue.