Why don't conservatives like AmeriCorps?
With a government shutdown looming due to federal-budget
deadlock, House Republicans are proposing a stopgap measure--not a compromise
but a short-term enactment of the massive budget cuts passed last week by the
House but dismissed by the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House.
Along with hurting economic growth--that's according to Goldman Sachs, not some liberal think
tank--this proposal would make deep cuts to a wide variety of programs and
eliminate some altogether. It would mean the end of AmeriCorps, which played a
huge role in, among other things, Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. Here's
an anecdote from AmeriCorps alumnus Nathan Rothstein, who served in
When we had a spare moment, we would walk down to
Frenchmen street or go to neighborhood meetings in the evening where we met
other young AmeriCorps volunteers working in relief organizations around the
city. It became clear that AmeriCorps volunteers led the majority of the
volunteer coordination in the city. Anyone who picked up a hammer or painted a
wall in the past five years in New Orleans was most likely managed by an
According to a recent study conducted by the Corporation
for National and Community Service, "more than 110,000 national service
volunteers have contributed more than 9.6 million hours to the relief,
recovery, and rebuilding effort. [AmeriCorps] also have coordinated an
additional 648,000 community volunteers, a major share of the overall volunteer
Church groups, individual families and others from across
the political spectrum trekked down to the Gulf Coast to help out, and
AmeriCorps headed up much of the difficult and crucial work of coordinating
volunteers to put their service to good use. Does this sound like something we
Meanwhile, religious right leaders are pushing the deficit-hawk gospel, lending some
(dubious) biblical support to their spending-cut-fanatic conservative brethren.
Tony Perkins even lists AmeriCorps funding among several
"taxpayer subsidies to the Left." If paying young people poverty wages to serve
others (often by corralling other workers who aren't paid at all) is a leftist
thing, who counts as a compassionate conservative anymore?