By MOHAMED HAMALUDIN
Wheelchair-bound Linda Preast of Georgia, who had a stroke two years ago and depends on Meals for Wheels for her food voted for Donald Trump, because “I was under the influence that he was going to help us.”
Preast learned recently that the federal program which President Richard Nixon signed into law 45 years ago and serves 2.4 million seniors in 5,000 communities, will be eliminated under Trump’s budget proposals. Asked by CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller what she has to say to White House Budget Director Mike Mulvaney, Preast said, “What if it was your momma?” But Meals on Wheels is only one of several critically important programs that face elimination or severe cuts if the administration gets its way. They include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — food stamps — housing, home weatherization and home heating, job training, banking and legal aid. The cuts could total at least $6 billion and, according to The Washington Post, would hit rural and small town communities hardest – the very people who, like Preast, voted for Trump.
At the same time, Trump is proposing a $54 billion military spending boost in his $1.15 trillion budget outline. The fact that the preliminary document puts such pressure on poor families, the elderly and children is an indication of an astonishing meanness of spirit and callousness of soul.
Separate from the budget proposals, the Republican Party’s seven-year vendetta to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” would take health insurance away from 14 million people, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, rising to 24 million in a decade.
It cannot be said enough times that whoever is elected president has the right to chart a course for the nation as he or she sees fit. But with that power should come a willingness to uphold and expand the services that cater to Americans often regarded as “the least of these.”
The coming assault on the social service safety net does not reflect Trump’s recent State of the Union address to Congress. Instead, it promises that tens of millions of Americans are in for a very cold four-year winter.
But there are Americans who are unwilling to ignore their needy fellow citizens. Meals on Wheels reported that, within 24 hours of the announcement, online donations rose 50 percent and the number of volunteers rose by 500 percent.
A strong undercurrent of compassion for one another and a basic goodness permeate the fabric of American society and these are bound to rise to the surface as a stern rebuke to the mostly male members of the administration preparing to wage war on the poor.
The following are a few examples that have been in the news recently.
Jean Young Haley died trying to save her twin sister Martha Young Williams, who fell in freezing temperatures outside Haley’s home after an evening out. The Rhode Island sisters were 97 years old.
Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal of Chicago, as she neared death from cancer, wrote in
Vanity Fair what the media called a “dating profile” on her husband Jason, “based on my experience of coexisting in the same house with him for, like, 9,400 days.” She said, “He is an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day.”
Royce Brown and his pregnant wife Keri of Oklahoma are carrying their baby girl to full term, even though she will have no brain, so they can donate her organs.
Ian Grillot, 24, tried to intervene in what authorities believe was a racially motivated shooting in a Kansas bar that killed a native of India and injured another Indian. Grillot was hit in the hand and chest but survived.
“I couldn’t stand there, I had to do something,” he said.
Pedro Viloria, 22, probably saved an off- duty policewoman and her two children by jumping through the drive-thru window of the Doral McDonald’s where he worked and helping to get her car to safety. The officer had passed out and her car kept moving into traffic.
“I thought, ‘If these kids lose their mother today, that’s gonna be tragic,’” Viloria told WSVN TV.
Chrissy Marie of Washington State found a $5 bill which at her door along with a handwritten note that said, “I am sorry that we stole your windchimes our mom died and likes butterflies so my sister took it and put it by our window I am sorry this is only money I have please do not be mad Jake.”
Marie, who said her own mother died when she was young, planned to meet Jake and return the $5. “My heart broke for them.”