WASHINGTON -- February 7 -- Budget decisions made this year will have profound and lasting consequences. Cuts to federal programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and public housing will endanger the already precarious economic security of millions of U.S families. Cuts in federal aid to education and changes to the rules governing Social Security, the tax code, and eligibility for basic services will lock in increasing inequality and poverty in the United States, where 36 million people already struggle to survive at the poverty level.
To call attention to this growing threat to economic security, the American Friends Service Committee, an international social justice organization, launches Save Our Services (SOS!), a campaign that upholds budget fairness. SOS! supports a federal budget that strengthens programs vital to the health and well-being of millions of Americans and defends equal rights, economic security, and opportunity.
Millions of Americans cant find jobs and millions of workers cant make ends meet because of low wages, says SOS! campaign director, Roberta Spivek. As people of conscience, we cannot accept a budget that changes the rules governing Social Security, the tax code, and eligibility for basic services in ways that increase inequality and poverty.
The stage is set for one of the most heated budget debates in years.
The recent U.S. presidential election exposed a fundamental rift between those who support the privatization and shrinking of Social Security and other federal programs, and those who support a strong public-sector role in providing for the common good.
At stake are competing visions of good society.
Our country faces a fundamental choice, says Mary Ellen McNish, AFSC general secretary and head of the organization. Should the United States revert to a pre-New Deal era where people are left to fend for themselves in the face of poverty, low wages, sickness, old age, and increasingly insecure jobs in the global economy?
Today President Bush has presented a budget to Congress that eliminates or severely cuts dozens of programs, McNish continues. Shouldnt our nation commit ourselves anew to our Constitutions promise to form a more perfect union, establish justice, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity?
The effort, led by AFSC organizers in California, New Hampshire, New York, West Virginia and other states, includes a new online blog where people can share their visions of a good society and budget priorities, and public advocacy for a budget that reflects widely shared values. A free action kit will be available on the campaigns website.
Budget cuts to Medicaid, housing assistance, education, and other vital programs will harm millions of Americans, says Martha Yager, an AFSC field organizer in Concord, New Hampshire. Yager, who organizes winter emergency shelters, warns, Our state cant afford any more cuts that will lead to increased hunger, homelessness, and hardship.
SOS! opposes an Ownership Society that means less opportunity for the many and more ownership by the few. It supports the vision of a good society embraced in the Constitution in which government plays a vital role in establishing justice and promoting the general welfare.
The American Friends Service Committee, a co-recipient of the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize, is a Quaker-based nonprofit organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service. SOS! is an initiative of AFSCs U.S. Economic Justice Program, which helps communities organize to achieve economic security and human rights.
The Service Committee has regional offices in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Des Moines, New York City, Pasadena, San Francisco, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Seattle, Washington, and in 22 countries of the world.