The American Dream is at Stake in the 2018 Federal Budget
Pictured above: NALCAB staff and member organization leaders from FINANTA, Rural Neighborhoods, El Centro de la Raza, Norris Square Community Alliance, and Community Resources and Housing Development Corporation meet with the office of Senator Bob Casey on June 1, 2017.
Friends and Colleagues,
In late May, the President submitted his proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 federal budget. The President’s proposal does not make a serious attempt to outline a viable fiscal plan for the federal government. Rather than staking out a real negotiating position, the President chose to begin the 2018 federal budget process with irresponsible pandering to his most extreme supporters. The result is a document that clearly communicates the President’s radical ideological positions by slashing nearly every line item that helps to equalize the imbalance of privilege and access to opportunity among Americans; privilege and access that is highly determined by the zipcode of where they were born. The President’s approach would be a disaster for our country, and Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have pronounced it “Dead on Arrival.”
With that being understood, the President’s budget should be dismissed out of hand, and our focus should turn to Congress, where Committee Chairmen and members of the Appropriations Committees will collectively have more power over the budget and appropriations process than any members of Congress in recent memory. The saying, “the President proposes, Congress disposes” has more relevance now than ever. Members of Congress from both Parties have already shown their willingness to stand up and support key community development programs. In FY 2017, Congress approved the largest appropriation in its history for the US Treasury Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, despite the fact that the President had called for its elimination. Similarly, the US HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs were funded at the same level they received in FY 2016, despite the President’s desire to see both programs eliminated.
On June 1st, NALCAB organized members of our Network to visit The Hill and strategically engage with the offices of Senators who are likely to be central to the FY ’18 budget process. We should remain vigilant of the challenges awaiting us in FY 2018. We can expect to see a vocal minority in Congress push even harder for drastic cuts to domestic discretionary programs that invest in opening opportunity for low- and middle-income people. NALCAB will continue to strongly oppose such actions in whatever form they may take. NALCAB will also continue to speak out about the enormous negative economic consequences of those elements of the budget that advance radical anti-immigrant policies and enforcement activity.
The commitment to bettering our communities is not a partisan issue. There are great champions of community development programs and sensible immigration policies on both sides of the aisle. Members of both parties have fought for key federal programs that foster equitable neighborhood development, small business investment and building family financial capability across the country for citizens and immigrants. What Members of Congress support in the FY ‘18 budget process will tell us if they are committed to building a country that continues to throw open the doors of opportunity and create ladders for economic mobility – the fundamental basis of the American Dream.
Executive Director, NALCAB