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Business of Giving: Investing in Our Future


Charities, social programs essential to recovery.

We all know the saying, "it's the economy, stupid." Well, I'm going to go one step further: "It's the deficit, stupid."

On July 28, the White House announced that there would be a $482 billion deficit for 2009. The forecast is based largely on planned increases in federal spending, coupled with anticipated declines in corporate income tax collections and economic growth at a meager 1.6%. And it doesn't even take the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- or the $25 billion bailout of Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) -- into account.

But there are other sectors of the economy where spending -- or should I say need -- is increasing.

The New York Times reports "Spending on some domestic programs -- like veterans' medical care, unemployment benefits and food and nutrition assistance -- is growing faster than in the comparable period last year."

Is this a surprise to anyone? Unemployment is up. Food prices are up. People need help, and they need it now.

But do you want to know my biggest fear? It's this: As we search for ways to dig our way out of this deficit, the first thing to get slashed will be social programs providing the very safety net that keeps people from homelessness, chronic illness and hunger. Maybe it's my biggest fear because I know it's happened before - and it's sure to happen again, unless things turn around soon.
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