In critical domestic programs, the Presidentâs budget makes the following cuts:
- Nutrition - Commodity Supplemental Food Program: Would terminate food assistance to 440,000 low-income seniors in an average month
- Energy Assistance: Despite recent increases in the cost of heating, energy assistance to poor families, the elderly and the disable would be cut.
- Childrenâs Health: Allocated funds in the budget would not cover all those presently enrolled in SCHIP and would not allow coverage for those currently eligible but not yet enrolled.
- Child Care: Funding for child care for children in low- and moderate-income families would be frozen even as inflation causes the cost of providing child care to rise
- Head Start: Funding cuts would leave programs with the choice of reducing the number of children served or the quality of the programs.
- Housing: Programs for the low-income, elderly and people with disabilities would be cut.
- Social Services Block Grant: Funds for states to provide basic services to vulnerable low-income children, seniors, and people with disabilities would be cut.
- Health Care: Proposed $13 billion Medicaid cuts over five years would shift costs to states that may result in their providing less health care for low-income beneficiaries.
These cuts are especially disheartening when combined with the ravages that remain from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Most Americans still remember the stark portrait of poverty in America that emerged from those disasters. The Presidentâs international-assistance budget, however, does offer some reason for hope:
- HIV/AIDS: an unprecedented increase to $5.4 billion for prevention and treatment programs. The budget, however, allocates just $300 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, less than half of what Congress allocated for FYâ07. A U.S. fair-share contribution to the Fund would be $1.4 billion in 2008.
- Millennium Challenge Account: increased to $3 billion. This innovative program is making strides in fighting poverty around the world, and should be fully funded.
- Other key development accounts: Maternal and child health, reproductive-health care, and traditional development assistance â key programs that work alongside those discussed above â all sustained cuts. Congress should restore these at least to FYâ07 levels.
- Sudan: a much-needed increase for humanitarian and peacekeeping programs that Congress should protect at all costs.
Spending on humanitarian and development programs abroad is especially important at this time, not only because of the catastrophes, such as the conflict in Sudan and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, unfolding daily before us, but because of the need to show that the United States sees all Godâs people as its neighbors and seeks to serve human need wherever it occurs.