Government Shutdown Delayed, But Budget’s Effects Still Uncertain

Nothing that's currently on the table bodes especially well for the poor and folks of color.

By Shani O. Hilton Mar 03, 2011

After signing a two-week government funding extension, President Barack Obama insisted that it’s now time for Democrats and Republicans to work out a deal, saying, "Living with the threat of a shutdown every few weeks is not responsible, and it puts our economic progress in jeopardy."

Yet, as Colorlines has reported before, it seems like both current options–the budget Obama presented last month, and H.R. 1, the GOP budget that cuts $61 billion–are not good ones for the poorest Americans and people of color.

A spokesperson for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) predicts that in a future where a budget with drastic cuts passes, the need for assistance won’t be lessened, only the capacity for meeting the need will. Agencies will see increased need from poor people and will have less ability to help.

The Washington Post reports that Vice President Joe Biden will be sitting down with both parties to discuss a budget compromise, a move that echoes Biden’s role in hammering out the tax deal last December, when Republicans agreed to extend unemployment insurance in exchange for a tax cuts extension for the richest Americans.

Right now, the hope of those who oppose the extreme cuts lies in the Senate, which maintains a liberal majority. In a statement, Senator Bernard Sanders (D-Vt.) says it would be "wrong to balance the budget on the backs of people already suffering from the recession who are receiving Social Security, enrolled in Head Start or depend on home heating assistance."

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified yesterday that the Republican budget proposal will cut "about a couple hundred thousand jobs." And a Moody’s report puts that number at 700,000.