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LOCAL News :: Poverty & Urban Development

Speakout on the House Budget Cuts

The House Republican leadership is trying to slip through draconian cuts to Food Stamps, Medicaid, Child Support Enforcement, and other safety net programs.

On Wednesday, as part of a national protest organized by MoveOn, five leaders of local non-profits and a group of community members spoke out on the steps to the Santa Cruz County Courthouse.

Following are their comments on the bill.
Lee Mercer, Education and Outreach Director, Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties

Food banks locally, and around the country, are in opposition to cuts to the food stamp program. The 300,000 families who will be tossed off of food stamps if the proposed federal budget cuts are enacted will soon be standing in lines at local food pantries and soup kitchens. Many of these are working families below the poverty line- the poorest of the poor?.

Doug Keegan, Director, Santa Cruz Immigration Project

“I am concerned about the provision that would extend the ban on food stamps and help from other public safety net programs for legal immigrants from 5 to 7 years. It is inhumane and unfair to target immigrants who have legally become permanent residents here in the United States. It is hard enough for them to deal with the ban on services for 5 years, let alone extending it for another two. This ban doesn’t take into consideration loss of a job, catastrophic illness, and other misfortunes that a person has no control over.

It seems that Congress is targeting the most vulnerable in an attempt to save pennies when they are giving away dollars to the wealthy.?

Paul O’Brien, Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center

Paul O’Brien spoke about the cuts to Head Start. In addition to cuts to food stamps and Medicaid, part of the budget reconciliation bill would cut the Head Start program by 2 percent.

Head Start provides a comprehensive program of services to very low income families which includes nutrition, parenting classes, pre-school, health care, and dental care.

Head Start has been one of the most successful Federal programs of all time, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Studies show that low-income kids who participate in Head Stat do measurably better in school.

In order to qualify for Head Start, a family of four can’t be making more than $18,500. These are some of the lowest income families in the county.

How can Congress stomach cutting this program to provide tax cuts for the very rich?

Yolanda Henry, Familia Center

“Our center works with immigrants, and people forget that many of them have citizen children. These children are our future, and as children they need to be nurtured and provided for – making sure that they have healthy meals at school, and a solid education.

If these families lose eligibility for food stamps, then the kids will be automatically disenrolled from the school meal programs, which keep the kids fed even when the parents are facing financial crises. People don’t realize just how tied together these programs are.?

Roy Jiminez, Program Manager for Salud Para La Gente

“One of our major concerns is the reduction of the Child Health and Disability program that provides for screening, health maintenance, and education for low-income, uninsured children under 19.

These screenings are essential to uncover health problems such as diabetes, dental problems, vision problems, obesity, and other developmental problems. If not treated early these conditions can cause serious, long-term complications. Often we find critical conditions that parents did not even know existed.

Salud Para La Gente is one of the community safety net health centers providing health care to these targeted families through our clinic network in Watsonville and Santa Cruz. This funding is vital to our mission.?

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Save the Safety Net!

By Melissa Beaudoin.
What will happen to people with out it?

Re: Speakout on the House Budget Cuts

These bloated and beauracratic safety nets are costing the workers of America far more than they are worth. Why does no one ever consider the cost of these things? They are not free. They force the middle class to work longer hours for less pay, and force employers to cut jobs rather than hire. Dragging down the more productive members of society is short sighted and self-destructive to the collective good.

Re: Speakout on the House Budget Cuts

You are insinuating that the people utilizing these services are somehow unproductive or lazy. They are not! These people are victims of the classist, racist, sexist society that you are defending. It's easy to discount the value of these services if, for example, you have access good health care and don't have to worry about where your next meal will come from.

It is "short sighted and self-destructive to the collective good" to ignore the needs of our neighbors who are struggling to survive in a system that is failing them. Yes, these safety nets are costly. But don't attack the people who need them most and martyr the middle class. Instead, look at the way the government prioritizes money. There seems to be an endless supply of money to fund the Iraq war, yet there never seems to be enough money to keep libraries, hospitals and schools open and running effectively.

Re: Speakout on the House Budget Cuts

I am not insinuating that. I am stating that those who make enough money to support themselves comfortably despite punitive, classist, retalliatory taxation schemes are the more productive members of society because they produce more. That is what I said. Please read before you reply.

Furthermore, you know nothing of basic economics. Do you think this war is just producing rich people who sit amid piles of money, playfully tossing it in the air?

Underpriviledged young men and women will have money for college, thanks to this war. They will have technical skills they could never have acquired at home.

Day laborers have work now, building new homes for defense contractors. Actors, waitresses, chefs, taxi drivers, hotel workers all reap the rewards of a surge in business when defense contractors have a surge in profits.

Private schools are seeing booming enrollment, where children can receive an education that is more on par with global standards than the pathetic brainwashing program which we call "public schools". This boom is creating opportunities in the private school sector, which has brought increased competition and lowered private tuititions so that even more children can have the benefit of a decent non-crappy non-government education.

Meanwhile the middle class whom you force to work harder to pay your taxes - and believe me, it is the middle-class that gets caught in the crossfire of your prejudicial class war against the rich, and pays the highest price - is forced into poverty by the very system YOU support to supposedly protect people from poverty.

You dont want an end to poverty. You want an increase! Because the poor vote liberal.

You speak of peace, yet you wage war every day in your heart against those who have worked hard and succeeded in acquiring more than you. You are jealous, petty, spiteful, and uncivilized.


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