Obama's Disappointing Budget Slashes Energy Assitance, Pell Grants

Our economy is in shambles and our deficit is threatening to eat us alive -- everyone knows the budget cuts this year are going to be serious but selective. The GOP's proposed budget plan kills programs from public broadcasting -- PBS, NPR -- to family planning assistants, but leaves be the gianormous defense budget like a sleeping dragon. That's something we expected.

Obama's proposed budget, released Monday, does slash some of the bottomless war purse -- he wants to chop down the defense budget by about 5 percent, down to the still-absurdly-high number of $671 billion, down $37 billion from this year. (The GOP, obviously, is already chomping at the bit.)

But he's also experiencing some disappointing overlap with the GOP, cutting important programs that affect the poor -- including Pell Grants, community-service block grants and most importantly, energy assistance for those who can't afford to pay their bills. If it sounds confounding, that's because it's all politics. The Huffington Post:

"It tells you he is making a statement," said Andy Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union, a longtime Obama supporter and a member of the president's fiscal commission. "It is shared sacrifice ... They stuck their chin right out asked people to hit them, and they are being hit. But it is with the intention, particularly with independent voters, of appreciating that no one is immune from being hurt here."

Over at The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan was much more blunt about the situation. In a piece entitled 'Obama to the Next Generation: Screw You, Suckers,' he derides the President for the lack of Medicare payment cuts for doctors, calling him 'too weak, too cautious, too beholden to politics over policy to lead':

In this budget, in his refusal to do anything concrete to tackle the looming entitlement debt, in his failure to address the generational injustice, in his blithe indifference to the increasing danger of default, he has betrayed those of us who took him to be a serious president prepared to put the good of the country before his short term political interests. Like his State of the Union, this budget is good short term politics but such a massive pile of fiscal bullshit it makes it perfectly clear that Obama is kicking this vital issue down the road.

Of course, the budget hadn't been out for all of 15 minutes before the GOP began its hyperbolic assault, making Obama's political line-straddling somewhat moot beyond the 2012 elections. Read more at HuffPo.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at February 15, 2011, 3:07am