It is time to say goodbye to 2020. Please applaud! Whenever we cross the threshold of a new year, there is an atmosphere of hope, and now more than ever, hope is the focus for millions. We hope that a COVID 19 vaccine will be effective, that Republicans and Democrats will work together and get things done to improve the lives of millions, and hope for racial justice. The list for real change is endless.
President-elect Biden and the 117th Congress will face a mountain of issues demanding action: an economic recovery plan, expansion of the Affordable Care Act, concrete action on addressing climate change, and immigration reform. As one in six people in the United States faces hunger and millions face eviction, non-partisan action is critical. We have had twelve years of a partisan tug of war with the working class, immigrants, and people of color always on the losing end. Executive orders from the President will not adequately solve relentless social problems.
In a past issue of NETWORK CONNECTION, Network compared the FY 2017 federal budget of President Obama and the 2019 federal budget of President Trump. The comparison is a display of the devaluing of the common good:
FY 2017 FY 2019
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity $733 million $0
Department of Education $69.4 billion $63.3 billion
Federal Work Study $983 million $200 million
Housing and Urban Development $48.9 billion $39.2 billion
Center for Medicare and Medicaid $2.9 billion $2.4 billion
Low Income Home Energy Assistance $3 billion $0
SNAP (formerly food stamps) $82 billion $73 billion
“Show me your budget and I will tell you what your values are.” This quote from former Vice President, now President-Elect Joe Biden, is a simple truth.
Will the votes on bills to come in 2021 be in support of the common good? I dream of the following: an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour; an immigration reform bill that unites families and leads to a path to citizenship, with “dreamers” (DACA) granted citizenship; climate change bills that reverse the weakening of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, green jobs and responsible, common-sense gun legislation.
In a season of hope, there is much to hope for and work for, with renewed confidence. I believe the spirit of John Lewis is with us in the ongoing work of “righting the ship” of a country hitting rough waters.