Sunday, March 01, 2009

Grading the Administration 6

Weekly Poverty Grades for the Obama Administration: A

It is Sunday and so time to grade the Administration and their fight against poverty. Maybe I am still numb because of the loss of David Westcott or just feeling generous, but I am giving the administration an A this week. This is the first time that the Administration has reached the A territory.

The budget is the most important statement of priorities made by an Administration. It sets down in writing the direction for the country and the areas in which the administration is willing to put funding. It is the road map for government and sets the tone for future discussions. There is the bully pulpit, but the budget is about action.

This 2010 budget has a lot to be praised with regard to housing and poverty issues.
  • An increase in the HUD budget including an increase in the housing voucher program.
  • An increase in the Department of Veterans Affairs going specifically to health care.
  • Obama actually allocates money to the Federal Housing Trust Fund for the first time.
  • Modernizes the rules for disability benefits (which we hope will shorten the waiting period).
  • Increases the number of Social Security workers to process claims.
  • Improves the student loan system in order to allow more people to attend college.
  • The budget dramatically increases the number of National Service members who will be deployed in communities to address homelessness and poverty.
These are all good trends. The other thing that is encouraging was the President's video message from Saturday in which he said that he was ready to fight for these priorities. We have seen much rhetoric in the past, but few Presidents in the last 30 years willing to fight to reduce poverty. I also liked that the Director of Management and Budget has a blog, and attempts to correct spin that could derail Administration priorities. Peter Orszag tries to dispel some of the concern of larger non-profit organizations worried about a decrease in donations, because of the change in charitable donations outlined in the budget.

Now they have to go out and make this all happen. I do not understand the middle class task force that the Vice President is leading. But overall it was a good week for fighting poverty. We are now in solid B territory as a cumulative grade for the administration. Next week we will review the areas that the Administration needs to concentrate to stay in the A range.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

1 comment:

CynDe said...

I shot off an e-mail yesterday to my Congressman Charlie Wilson (Democrat - Ohio 6th District) expressing my concern to the rumored reduction in tax credit for charitable donations.

This is my first time writing to Charlie (I heard he's a great guy).
Hopefully, he will be prompt in responding, it he responds at all although I do appreciate his weekly newsletters.