You’re On Notice, President Obama
February 10, 2011 in Obama
In a year where pretty much everything is seeing budget cuts, even my admittedly prodigious budget for NSFW Japanese Body Pillows, it’s no surprise to hear that the federal government is looking to make cuts in the Community Development Block Grant program.
What does come as a surprise to political liberals like me is that the person spearheading the cuts is none other than former community organizer Barack Obama.
Administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the CDBG program provides resources for a multitude of community improvement and stabilization programs on a competitive grant basis. I won’t go into detail about everything that the CDBG program does; suffice it to say that the 36-year-old program has helped a lot of people in a lot of communities.
We’re not talking a five or 10% cut, either; the proposed cut of $125 million is roughly a quarter of the current budget.
To me, the real virtue of the CDBG program is that HUD requires of each grantee that they get extensive community input on any programs for which grantees are requesting funding. This means that people in struggling communities aren’t simply having changes and ideas foisted upon them; as a result, changes can be more positive and lasting because the people living with the changes are actually a part of them.
As a former community organizer, Barack Obama should be particularly attuned to this idea, seeing as it’s basically the cornerstone of community organizing as a practice and area of study.
Not surprisingly, though disappointingly, Barack Obama is becoming exactly what he seemed he’d never be: a posturing, centrist sellout.
I get that it’s politics. I know he has to do this to be re-elected in 2012, which, despite my distaste right now, is something I do want to see happen. But he is literally selling out the people who can least afford it, who will be hurt the most by it, and, given his past, he should damn well know it.
Ultimately, and obviously, this issue comes down to the interminable debate about whether big or small government is better. I see the CDBG program as a positive balance between those two opposing views, because, yes the federal government is funding city and state projects, but they’re doing so on a competitive basis, rather than just handing out the money. Feel free to argue with me on this point, of course.
I was pretty appalled to see this recommendation coming from the White House. I know it will be adopted, too, because the Democrats in Congress are a) a bunch of wusses and b) don’t want to be seen to go against their president before an election.
I expected a lot better of this president. He’s making hard decisions in one of the most difficult times in our country’s history, a task I most certainly don’t envy. But he and the Democratic Party are in for a real rude awakening come election time, because all those people who united under their banner of Hope and Change in 2008 are not going to be so ready to do it again, when it’s become plain that this president is not so different from every other president, ever.