The SOTU Demands a Better Budget


The White House/ flickr

In the first State of the Union address of his second term, President Obama laid out a grand social vision for the next four years, while largely avoiding the critical budget challenges currently facing the nation.

He failed to mention the federal government is operating on a temporary budget or that the debt ceiling was merely suspended until May. He briefly mentioned across-the-board budget cuts – known as sequestration – that are scheduled for March 1, acknowledging that the effect of such cuts would be devastating. Nearly every federal program would be hit by sequestration, including Head Start. Thus, even as the president laid out an ambitious vision for universal pre-kindergarten, the looming cuts of sequestration would pull funding from a program that already fails to reach all children from impoverished households.

Our nation is operating on a temporary budget and a temporary debt-ceiling suspension with indiscriminate budget cuts threatening critical investments ranging from education to food safety. The State of the Union address failed to acknowledge how far we are from resolving our fiscal challenges in a manner worthy of the dreams and aspirations held by the people of our nation. The unwillingness of some members of Congress to tackle both revenue and spending priorities, and thus the lack of viable budget solutions from Washington to continued crisis-based government, leaves our nation vulnerable to major fiscal challenges ahead. As we move forward, our collective work is to build a national budget that reflect the voices and priorities of the people of this nation instead of political expedience -- or worse -- political lock down.