Is it just me, or does the news lately seem like an endless stream of crises that come and go in a flash? Japan! Libya! The deficit! Obama's birth certificate! Bin Laden!
I, too, believe that many of these are serious issues that deserve attention and sympathy, but the drumbeat of daily emergencies is enough to leave one breathless. And confused.
Confused enough, in fact, not to notice that at least one old crisis hasn't gone away. Indeed, Congress has been busy making it worse.
In the recent budget deal, Congress and the administration did away with $88 million in funding for nonprofit agencies that counsel families struggling to keep their homes and avoid foreclosure. Maybe that doesn't seem important, but as this article from Painesville, Ohio makes clear, it has real-world consequences.
For one thing, it endangers many who are currently obtaining loan modifications, which may require the completion of credit and homeowner counseling as a condition for the modification to go through. If that counseling isn't available because the agencies doing it lost their funding, what happens to these homeowners?
The need for this sort of help and counseling for homeowners is only going up as the ongoing tsunami of foreclosures continues, but the future of such assistance is very much in doubt. Congress could and should restore this funding in the 2012 budget, but that's by no means a done deal. And unlike ginned-up controversies about things like presidential birth certificates, this crisis is real, with consequences that literally include families and children being thrown out into the streets.
If we must cut spending, does it always have to be from help for the poor and vulnerable? Even when what happens to the most economically vulnerable is going to affect us all?
Consider: A Government Accountability Office review of Defense Department weapons procurement released in March found a "staggering" array of weapons programs soaring wildly over budget, amounting to tens of billions of dollars. Without wading into the debate about what weapons are needed, it's a given that our military will buy tanks, planes, etc. Is it too much to ask that we get our money's worth, that our money not be wasted due to mismanagment? It's hard to stomach losing a comparatively tiny appropriation aimed at keeping families in their homes while simultaneously reading that contracting waste is burning through piles of money equal to the GDP of some small countries.
While we're at it, maybe it's time to glance away from this morning's crisis-of-the-day -- whatever it is -- and remember the ongoing foreclosure crisis that continues to decimate American communities, whether the media notice or not.