Why Obama’s 2017 Budget Is a Roadmap for Opportunity

17 Feb 2016 | Angela Glover Blackwell
Why Obama’s 2017 Budget Is a Roadmap for Opportunity
Above: White House Budget 2017

It is often said that every budget is a statement of values — a reflection of the hard choices necessary when directing limited resources. President Obama’s 2017 budget, released last week, reflects his commitment to building opportunity for all Americans and his understanding of the equity challenges facing this nation.      
 
What do I mean by “equity challenges”?  Demographics in the United States are rapidly changing: By the end of 2019, the majority of all children 18 and under will be of color; by 2030, the majority of the young workforce will be, too.  This means that getting the economic agenda right for people of color is essential for getting it right for the nation. Unless principles of equity — just and fair inclusion into a society where all can participate and prosper — are embedded into policies and investments today, it will be impossible to reap the benefits of prosperity tomorrow.  
 
The President’s budget displays his unwavering belief that everyone in America should have a fair shot at opportunity.  He makes clear that opportunity requires critical investments to improve access to high-quality child care and early education; increase pathways to college and career; ensure access to quality, affordable health care; and incentivize criminal justice reform. He bolsters safety net programs — including those that help very low-income families feed their children and afford decent housing — which are essential for helping struggling households get back on their feet. The 2017 budget also demonstrates the President’s continued commitment to working with and listening to communities through a series of renewed investments in place-based initiatives such as Promise Neighborhoods, Promise Zones, and Choice Neighborhoods.
 
It is not lost on me that the budget was released on the same day as the first primary of the election season leading to his successor.  In the President’s eighth and final budget, there lies a commitment to provide a nation on the cusp of economic, demographic, and political change with a roadmap for promoting inclusion, growth, and opportunity within all communities.  Much work remains to realize this commitment, but to unlock the promise of the nation, we must unlock the promise in us all.
 
In the coming weeks PolicyLink will share detailed analyses of the President’s budget and its impact upon the issues and communities we work to support.  We hope they will be helpful and ask that you join us in our efforts to promote an agenda based in equity.  You can read our Equity Manifesto here.