The Safety Net Frays

In the past two years, the social safety net has helped more Americans than any time in a generation. So why are so many people trying to tear it to shreds?

The recession brought on by Wall Street's casino speculation has pounded Main Street hard; unemployment has hovered near double digits for two years. Ordinary people are searching for jobs day after day, week after week. At a national hiring day in April, McDonald’s got more than a million job applicants, and rejected more than nine-tenths of them.

The House of Representatives' budget, which would cut Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, foreign food aid, health-care reform, and unemployment benefits -- while sparing military spending and giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations and individuals -- would be a moral disaster for every American. It's clear (even to rampaging liberals such as the economists at Goldman Sachs) that the proposed federal budget cuts would be a drag on the economy as it digs out of the hole caused by the recession.

During the Bush years, Congress handed out big tax breaks to the rich -- cuts that originally had an expiration date so legislators could avoid talking about their long-range budget folly. Congress and the Bush administration also green-lighted a $1.2 trillion bender of unneeded wars, a splurge that will keep on spending, due to our responsibilities to veterans.

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July 2011 Sojourners
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