President Obama's new budget proposal, unveiled Monday, sets the stage for the coming 2012 election and the upcoming battles over people's needs. While far better than the right-wing governmental wrecking ball of a budget offered by the GOP, the president's budget unfortunately finds savings in cutting government assistance to help poor and working people and keep them warm.
Deficit or no, these cuts cannot in good conscience be supported.
It is important to recall that the deficit was created in the first place by a big-business-perpetrated financial crisis.
A solution existed: the elimination of Bush's tax cuts for the rich, which would have generated revenue almost equal to the size of the deficit itself.
However, last November's election and the compromises agreed to in the lame duck Congress has made this issue moot - or has it?
It seems that President Obama has recognized, correctly, that in large measure the outcome of the 2012 election will depend on reforging the historic center-left coalition that brought him into office in 2008. This budget, in its attempt to thread a needle between the concerns of sections of the electorate and the broad needs of the working-class and people, seems designed with this in mind.
However, a central part of this electoral effort must be to give the poor and most in need real elements of hope. Compromises cannot be made on the backs of those least able to afford it and fight back. Home heating, block grants to states that provide housing and other needed services: these cannot be sacrificed on the altar of lifestyles of the super-rich and famous and their tax cuts.
What will emerge from Congress and end up on the president's desk will be neither Obama's nor the Republicans' plan.
Struggle now will help shape the debate and the votes in the House and Senate. In the coming weeks and months the cuts must be vigorously fought. Those who profess to be on the side of the least of us cannot afford to be still and silent.