The President's budget: Setting the stage for thriving communities where everyone has a chance

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On Monday President Obama announced his 2013 budget, a "blueprint for how we can rebuild an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded." As for all Americans, these are important priorities for people of faith because they set the stage for strong, thriving communities where everyone has the chance to reach their potential. Through critical investments in education and infrastructure, responsible deficit reduction measures, and clean energy provisions, the President laid out a strong plan for moving our country forward in the short- and long-term and constructing an economy that’s built to last.

President Obama’s remarks touched on the importance of working together to overcome the challenges before us as a nation. “We are facing a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get there,” he said. “What is at stake is whether or not this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement. This is the defining issue of our time. This budget reflects my deep belief that we must rise to meet this moment—both for our economy and for the millions of Americans who have worked so hard to get ahead.”

A key priority of the President’s plan is increasing opportunity and social mobility so that those who work hard and play by the rules have the chance to succeed in our country. “The way to rebuild our economy and strengthen the middle class is to make sure that everyone in America gets a fair shot at success,” he said. To ensure this is a reality in America, the President’s budget invests in elementary and secondary school improvements and works to make higher education more affordable. It also focuses on getting people back to work by providing opportunities for further skill development and advanced education, including “giving more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers—places that teach skills that businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.”

The President’s budget also exemplifies his commitment to the core American values of fairness and shared sacrifice. "We built this budget around the idea that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules," he said. His budget asks millionaires to chip in a little more and pay their fair share so we can responsibly reduce the deficit and keep our economic recovery on track after our 23rd consecutive month of job growth. The President spoke to this issue recently in his remarks at the 60th National Prayer Breakfast. “I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone,” the President said. “And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.”

In Osawatomie, Kansas, this past December, President Obama expressed the notion that “we’re greater together than we are on our own.” As people of various races, religions, creeds and communities, there are many differences among us; yet, we are all Americans, and the future of our country depends on all of us. The President’s 2012 budget embodies this idea by prioritizing increased economic and educational opportunity, promoting fiscal responsibility, and calling for shared sacrifice for the common good.