When President Bush offered his record $3.1 trillion budget this week, he said national security was his top priority, and he proved it with substantial increases for the military. But that same budget undermines the economic security of millions of Americans, including many in Maryland. The president didn't mention that.
While funding a war in Iraq that is costing $10 billion a month, Mr. Bush is proposing to cut or freeze a wide array of programs that are helping low-income families in Maryland and across the nation care for their children, live in decent housing, pay to heat their homes and meet other everyday challenges.
Paying for Mr. Bush's war is producing casualties of a different sort at home. A $4.4 million cut in federal energy assistance here, at a time when heating and electricity costs are soaring, would mean a colder winter for the nearly 100,000 Marylanders now receiving aid.
His suggested cuts in the Section 8 housing voucher program could go deep enough to force many Marylanders out of their subsidized apartments and homes, with few options. There isn't enough affordable housing now; the voucher program in Baltimore, for example, has a five-year waiting period.
The 14,000 low-income Maryland families that depend on federal aid to help pay for child care while they work may have less money for food and housing if Mr. Bush's proposal to freeze spending on that program becomes a reality, increasing their vulnerability.
At a time when the nation is teetering on the edge of a recession, Mr. Bush's budget favors the Defense Department and the rich - making permanent his tax cuts - at the expense of those least able to defend themselves from the likely economic storms ahead.
America's security is rooted in the welfare of its people. When members of Congress sit down to rewrite this budget - as we expect they will - they need to strengthen the economic security of poor and middle-class Americans, not weaken it.