Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

President Obama Goes Big in Budget to Fight Hunger and Poverty

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

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Last night when I bumped into Share Our Strength board member Bob Greenstein at a Connecticut Avenue restaurant, he shared that “the President’s budget that gets released tomorrow has some great anti-poverty provisions in it.  $12 billion for summer EBT and a great homelessness initiative. It won’t go anywhere in this Congress, but it sets a marker that could be valuable in the future.” This morning President Obama sent to Capitol Hill that $4 trillion budget proposing to increase opportunity, decrease poverty, invest in infrastructure, and reduce the deficit.
It took President Obama until the last year of his last term to be this bold in his anti-hunger and anti-poverty policymaking. While the prospect of Congressional approval is remote, big new ideas are now on the table and will become part of the national conversation. Like a GPS that doesn’t guarantee you have the equipment or fuel necessary for your journey but at least shows how far you have to go, the President’s budget points us in a direction and enables us to measure our distance to the goal. It gives America something to aim for – and for America’s hungry children it gives new hope.
            That budget includes one of our top priorities – a fix for the summer meals program that currently fails to serve more than 80% of eligible low income kids. The president proposes $12 billion to provide low incomes kids with supplemental electronic benefits during the summer when school meals are not available.  It would commit $11 billion to eliminating homelessness among families with children, and $10 billion to expand the home visiting program that have given support to so many parents and families.
Bob Greenstein may have been understated about Congressional resistance. The chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees, in a break from tradition, announced that they would not even invite the president’s budget director to testify before their panels.  There is little or no chance that a Republican controlled Congress will give the President the budget he asks for.  But Bob’s more detailed analysis,@ http://tinyurl.com/hdrzm9b explains why this budget proves “we can address key unmet national needs and substantially reduce deficits at the same time…. and includes a welcome focus on the most disadvantaged, offering proposals to increase opportunity and reduce poverty.”