Congress is facing two big challenges: passing a budget and raising the limit on the federal debt. To achieve the latter, they are considering devastating plans to phase in a federal spending cap at 20 percent of the national economy’s size.
Such a drastic measure would revoke our promises of health and economic security to all Americans, just as we cross a major threshold in our journey as a multiracial democracy.
According to a recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government “outside of health care, Social Security and defense would cease to exist” by 2050 under the current House proposal.
That means the end of Head Start, food stamps and Medicaid – just three services that have been critical in ameliorating poverty and closing the opportunity gap between poorer children and their peers.
Cutting them would greatly damage the Great Society efforts to achieve, in President Lyndon Johnson’s words, “not just equality as a right and theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.”
The progress that Johnson sought in the 1960s is no less important now, here, as large Washington cities like Tukwila, SeaTac, Renton and Kent move from majority white to majority minority communities.
These places are part of a nationwide transformation. By 2042, the Census Bureau estimates that most Americans will be people of color. As a majority white workforce reaches retirement, today’s children – 44 percent of whom are children of color – will support our nation’s infrastructure and aging population.
To assume their role, all kids need quality early learning experiences, as well as good food and preventive health care. This is true now, and it will be equally true in the very near future when children of color make up the majority of our youngsters.
Photo above right by Tegra Stone Nuess.