Skip to content
Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > President’s Budget – Children’s Defense Fund

The fastest growing industry in the United States is the production of victims. The factories are along the banks of the Potomac and part of the Reagan Administration, In 1983 Reaganism seems determined to accelerate the size of the underclass and the defenseless.

Take as exhibit one, the following statement:

“The November rise in the unemployment rate to 10.8% will intensify congressional pressure to change current monetary and fiscal policies. But the debate over recession cures may overlook an important impact of President Reagan’s tax and budget cuts: The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

“Both private and government studies attribute this change in national-income distribution to the elements of the Reagan economic program Congress passed last year.”

The above words do not come from a left-wing publication. They are taken verbatim from page one of the December 6, 1982 issue of The Wall Street Journal.

What President Reagan has planned for the next year will only accelerate the disparity between the rich and the poor and further-constrict the working middle class. Add to this trend the deterioraĀ­tion of quality of life standards in the environmental, consumer and workplace areas and what one sees is a burgeoning counter-revolution by the Reaganite elites.

Once behind the statistics of income distribution differences, the human tragedies that result need to be given voice and visibility. Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, told a group of new Representatives on Capitol Hill that “President Reagan has declared war on children.” She then backed up her assertion with a 200 page document titled: “A Children’s Defense Budget: An Analysis of the President’s Budget and Children.”

This report is full of what’s been happening between the Reagan government and children and what people need to know in order to act to stop this cruelty. There is even a section on alternative budget cuts of corporate welfare payments by the government (the taxpayers)–all those subsidies to Big Oil, Sugar, Tobacco, Breeder Reactor, and those even bigger tax loopholes. A small portion of these savings would more than offset the cuts directed at the weak, poor and young.

Children’s medical, food, educational, housing and other aid programs are being subjected to wholesale reductions or dismantling. It does not matter to the White House that these programs are cost-effective in, for example, reducing infant mortality. What matters is that they be cut.

State services which receive federal revenue are being curtailed and in some areas shut down altogether.

Edelman reports the case of a young mother with six children, recently abandoned by her husband after he lost his job: “For reasons that no one can ascertain, she lost her AFDC (aid to families with dependent children), Medicaid, and public housingĀ° She was forced to move into a shack in the mountains with no heat, electricity or running water. The clinic social worker tried to help but they said that it’s almost impossible–people are losing their benefits wholesale without explanation.”

Meanwhile, by comparison Mr. Reagan has increased the federal budget for military bands to $100 million a year, Edelman’s Children Defense Fund (1520 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20036) won several victories for children in Congress both in 1981 and 1982. This citizen group is gearing up for another struggle in 1983. They would like to hear from you. As Attorney Edelman says:

“We have so much more to fight for and with than Mr. Stockman. All he has is numbers that don’t add up. We have the lives of millions of children who need our help if they are to grow up healthy, educated, uncrippled, and with a family.”