Marty Nathan: Join wider fight to create ‘Budget for All’

Last modified: Thursday, August 15, 2013
NORTHAMPTON — The override election stirred up anger among neighbors and friends in Northampton. I regret that I argued with an old, respected friend about her opposition based on the override’s inequity and her concern that some homeowners could not afford it.

She was correct. And I was correct: the override was absolutely necessary to support teachers and programs in the public schools, particularly for working class and poor children who have no options and need quality education to have half a chance in this world.

My friend and I were doing exactly what was predictable in the face of the last decade’s huge cuts to the states and to domestic programs in the federal budget. Those cuts were forced by “budget hawks” who strive to eliminate a deficit which has been ballooned by $3 trillion in federal spending on two wars, continued appropriation of unnecessary and dangerous military weaponry, hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the rich and then a recession triggered by deregulation of Wall Street. That deficit-cutting played out in a trickle-down (really a waterfall) of cuts to community block grants, education, public safety, housing, food and heat.

Northampton, like all communities striving to maintain services in the face of the onslaught, has done what it could to preserve what is precious to all of us. But the main tool at its disposal is the property tax that, unlike our graduated federal income tax, is regressive, often hitting hardest those whose budgets are lean.

So homeowners on the edge battle working parents of children. What a travesty.

On July 10, I will be joining many in western Massachusetts at a hearing before a joint committee of the state Legislature in Boston of the Budget for All Resolution, which passed overwhelmingly in Northampton, Amherst and Holyoke.

The resolution calls on the Legislature to demand that our federal Congressional delegation vote to support a budget that restores taxes on the rich, eliminates tax loopholes for corporations, ends the war in Afghanistan and cuts the military budget. The resources earned are to be used to shore up domestic programs and invest in jobs in a green economy.

If we had had such a budget in the last 10 years, none of us would have had to exhaust ourselves arguing with our neighbors over a vastly reduced city budgetary pie. Please write to your state legislator and senator and ask him or her to vote for the resolution or, better yet, join us in Boston on July 10.

Marty Nathan, M.D., lives in Northampton.