In its recent budget for FY 2011, the House of Representatives voted to defund the Corporation for National and Community Service. This is the organization that administers the popular AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, VISTA, and NCCC programs. The new Congress is essentially trying to kill service in America
These programs, which are cheap, efficient and tailored to local needs, are designed to address some of our nation's most pressing problems. Child literacy, elder care, environmental conservation, homelessness, affordable housing, disaster recovery, public health…I could go on and on. The pay is peanuts and the work is difficult but nevertheless, year after year, Americans enroll to help serve their communities.
The new Congress though, in a fit of austerity (that does not include eliminating tax breaks for corporations or raising taxes on the rich) has decided that we simply cannot afford such extravagances. This comes at a time when the recent economic downturn is exacerbating exactly the problems the CNCS is designed to combat.
Further underscoring the perversity of these cuts is the fact that less than two years ago, in an exceedingly rare display of bipartisanship, Congress passed the Serve America Act, which greatly expanded service. It seemed as if the 15 year-old organization would finally be taken off the chopping block.
Bafflingly, this new class of legislators, after having been swept into office on a wave of bitterness and low voter turnout, believe it is their mission to singlehandedly save American civilization. This sacred crusade seems to include preventing government from helping citizens help themselves.
But in any case, a final budget has not been negotiated, so the battle is not over. I urge all of you to call this number:
This number is provided by the website:http://www.saveservice.org/ . It will connect you directly to your Senators as well as provide you with talking points, if you feel you need them.
Of course there are other things you could do. You could write a letter to the editor, attend a town hall meeting or meet with your legislator personally. We need grassroots pressure to make this happen.
There are a lot of members that would like to stand up for service. We just have to make them.