Now that President Obama has submitted his 2012 budget to Congress, the reaction runs the gamut from cool to hot; from mild disagreement to vociferous condemnation.
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
President Barack Obama went to a middle school in Baltimore, Maryland to unveil his budget and in doing so (not that it would have mattered if it was unveiled somewhere else), he opened the floodgates of criticism by both Republicans and some Democrats. The President proposed a multi-trillion dollar budget for fiscal 2012 with cuts in many programs in an attempt to lower the deficit. But it also included targeted spending on infrastructure and education.
The Democratic National Committee liked it: “This plan responsibly trims wasteful government spending while still fueling the incubators of growth: education, innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure. It’s a strategy to create jobs right now, grow the economy for the long run, and ensure government works for all Americans.” And as expected, the National Republican Congressional Committee does not like it.
His hesitancy to fund any large scale programs for Blacks drew criticism, especially some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) who have said that since Black America were his biggest supporters (almost 100 percent), they should see some tangible benefit from his victory. Some have referred to it loosely as “the St. Valentine Day Massacre” since it was sent to Congress on Valentine’s Day.
At the unveiling, President Obama said, “Over the last few weeks I’ve traveled the country, talking about what we need to do to win the future; talked about the need to invest in innovation, so that the next big idea is discovered here in the United States of America. I’ve talked about the need to invest in high-speed rail and high-speed Internet, so that companies can move goods and information faster than ever. And this week, I’ll be talking about the need to invest in education–in places like Parkville–so that every American is equipped to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world.”
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, chairman of the CBC, in responding to the President’s budget said, “Well, we knew it was going to be a tough budget. We knew that it was going to be painful. We think that the president tried desperately in this budget to reduce the amount of pain on the poor. I think, however, that we have a responsibility for protecting the vulnerable population. If you’ll notice, there’s very little discussion any place about – when the budget is discussed – about the poor. And I know that that’s an unpopular word to use.”
NNPA columnist, George Curry chimed in thus: “Limiting spending to a historical average of some kind has been a longstanding goal of very conservative organizations such as the Heritage Foundation,” noted a report by Paul N. Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C. “The reality is, however, that policymakers will find it virtually impossible to maintain federal spending at its average level back to 1970 without making draconian cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and an array of other vital federal activities.”
In his remarks, the President also said, “But I’m also convinced that the only way we can make these investments in our future is if our government starts living within its means, if we start taking responsibility for our deficits. That’s why, when I was sworn in as President, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. The budget I’m proposing today meets that pledge–and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade. We do this in part by eliminating waste and cutting whatever spending we can do without.”
And as if to anticipate some of his critics, President Obama further stated, ” I used a scalpel,” inferring the care in which he made some of the cuts, “instead of a machete.” He also knew that whatever he did, he would have been criticized and anyone who believe that his 2012 budget would have suddenly reversed the previous state of the economy, was living on another planet.
In announcing the relationship of government to the average household when dealing with financial matters, the President concluded, “That’s what families across the country do every day–they live within their means and they invest in their family’s futures. And it’s time we did the same thing as a country. That’s how we’re going to get our fiscal house in order.
That’s how we’ll grow our economy and attract new jobs to our shores. And that’s how America we will win the future in the 21st century.”