- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2012

President Obama’s 2013 budget doesn’t address the nation’s debt crisis. Instead, it is a blatant attempt to pander to his base in an election year. To make the goal even more obvious, the White House released fact sheets targeted to key constituencies highlighting programs the administration believes are suited to their needs.

The White House thought blacks would be most interested in programs to prevent those in jail from going back to a life of crime. Such funding was not touted among other minority groups, like Hispanics and Asians. Mr. Obama appears to be perpetuating negative stereotypes of minority groups in his misguided efforts to win re-election.

The administration document, “An Economy Built to Last and Security for African-American Families,” highlights $831 million in the budget dedicated to prisoner re-entry programs run by the Justice Department. The funding includes $21 million for substance-abuse treatment programs in state and local prisons and jails, presuming a significant number of these must be alcoholics and drug addicts. The White House demonstrates a low opinion of young blacks by highlighting $85 million dedicated to reducing recidivism for ex-offenders and at-risk youth through counseling, job training and drug treatment.

As much as the White House seems to want to perpetuate these myths, most blacks are law-abiding citizens who love their country and want to live the American dream. The bad apples who find themselves sentenced to a federal or state prison account for only 1 out of 100, according to Justice Department and Census Bureau statistics. The focus should be on providing opportunity to all, regardless of race.

Still, Mr. Obama insists on focusing on differences. By adding $47 million to the budget, he doubled this year’s funding for continued construction of the $500 million National Museum of African-American History and Culture on the National Mall, where Mr. Obama will speak at the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday.

Fact sheets for other minority groups also feed into negative stereotypes. Only Latinos and Asians are pitched on Mr. Obama’s support of the Dream Act, which would give illegal aliens the right to citizenship. Only Asians and Pacific Islanders are told about the $393 million request for programs to help migrant children overcome challenges “due to frequent moves among the states with disparities in curriculum, graduation requirements, or state academic content and student academic achievement standards.”

Even lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and the transgendered (LGBT) aren’t immune from such treatment. They get their own fact sheet in which four of the nine programs are related to HIV/AIDS. Instead of information on housing and jobs, the White House creates a separate fact sheet entitled, “Fighting the HIV/AIDS Epidemic and Supporting People Living with HIV/AIDS,” as if the entire community were afflicted with the auto-immune disease.

In his single-minded focus on a second term in the White House, Mr. Obama went too far in picking and choosing spending priorities based on what he believes his core base will like. Instead of dividing Americans, the budget should unite all of us in solving the national debt. The share for each and every one of us, regardless of color or creed, is $49,170 and growing.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.