Tuesday, February 15, 2005

"Yawning at the Needy"

From American Progress Action, "Losing Faith in Compassionate Conservatism"

David Kuo, former deputy director of the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, has decided to speak candidly about his experiences. His message: this administration doesn't care about the poor. In a piece published on Beliefnet yesterday, Kuo writes, "From tax cuts to Medicare, the White House gets what the White House really wants. It never really wanted the 'poor people stuff.'"

As a result, while President Bush spoke a lot about providing funds to "groups caring for drug addicts, at-risk youth, and teen moms," most of that assistance never arrived. In a bizarre attempt to rebut Kuo's charge that the administration was all talk on the issue, White House spokesman Trent Duffy noted, "The president has mentioned the initiative in every State of the Union." (Share your thoughts on the state of compassionate conservatism on ThinkProgress.org).

YAWNING AT THE NEEDY: The White House ignored opportunities for the president to make good on his commitments. For example, Kuo writes that in 2001 former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) approached the White House "with an offer to pass a charity relief bill that contained many of the president's campaign tax incentive policies plus new money for the widely-popular and faith-based-friendly Social Services Block Grant."

The reaction: "The White House legislative affairs office rolled their eyes while others on senior staff yawned." The White House felt comfortable it could get away with this kind of behavior because there was no one to hold it accountable. Kuo writes, "Drug addicts, alcoholics, poor moms, struggling urban social service organizations, and pastors aren't quite the NRA."

THE LATEST DECEPTION: At the State of the Union, President Bush proudly announced a new three-year initiative – to be lead by First Lady Laura Bush – "to help organizations keep young people out of gangs." Kuo reveals that the money for the program – $50 million over three years – is being "taken out of the already meager $100 million request for the Compassion Capital Fund," supposedly a central component of the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives programs. If the Bush request were granted, "it would actually mean a $5 million reduction in the Fund from last year." Since 2002, President Bush has "sponsored a 44 percent overall reduction in delinquency-fighting and anti-gang funds."

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