Bush Takes Budget Axe To America’s Volunteers

bushvol.jpg Today, President Bush commemorated the fifth anniversary of the USA Freedom Corps by praising America’s volunteers:

We’re heralding volunteerism here today. It is a really important aspect of American society. I’m proud of our fellow citizens who have answered the call. I encourage you to continue on.”

Bush loves praising volunteerism. In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush called on “every American to commit at least two years, 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime, to the service of your neighbors and your nation.”

But Bush also loves cutting funding for AmeriCorps, which President Bill Clinton created in 1993 “as a kind of domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps.” Since that time, more than 200,000 Americans have served in AmeriCorps. A look at Bush’s real “commitment” to volunteerism:

2003: “The president promised to expand AmeriCorps by 50 percent, from 50,000 volunteers to 75,000 volunteers. But in 2003, he signed legislation that cut AmeriCorps’s operating budget by 30 percent.”

2004: “The President in his FY 2004 budget request proposed $324 million for AmeriCorps, a $40 million decrease from FY 2003.”

2005: Bush’s budget included $442 million for AmeriCorps, which was “level funded from FY 2004.”

2006: Bush’s budget proposed to “reduce funding for Americorps from $287.7 million in FY ’05 to $275 million in FY ’06.”

2007: “Beginning next year [2007], the White House would reduce funding for the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps from $27 million to $5 million with the goal of closing it down, according to the president’s budget. About 81 full-time staff members would lose their jobs.”

2008: The Bush administration’s fiscal 2008 budget would allocate about $480 million to AmeriCorps programs — more than $25 million less than what’s called for in the 2007 spending plan that Democratic Congressional leaders have crafted and significantly less than the fiscal 2006 enacted total.