Correspondent Mark Shephard visited with people in Elkhart last week and asked, "April 21 marks five years since the president signed the Serve America Act, a bipartisan initiative that provides funding for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. Now budget proposals by Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis, differ drastically in respect to AmeriCorps, which allows mostly young people the opportunity to serve their communities for a year. How do you feel about using federal tax dollars as a means for funding programs such as AmeriCorps?"
Kika Brown, retired high school teacher, Elkhart:
"I think it’s a great program. There are multiple needs in this country for that kind of opportunity for young people to develop themselves and to help their communities as they’re doing that." Follow-up question: What would you say to Rep. Paul Ryan, who wants to zero out AmeriCorps in his budget? "You probably couldn’t print what I think. I think that would be very consistent with his political philosophy and the way he operates within the Republican Party, and I think it would be a terrible thing. I think we’ve got a good thing going and we ought to keep it going."
Mirrissa LaMay, restaurant worker, Bristol:
"I think it could go either way. I think it’s a good idea because it’s a good cause, obviously. At the same time it’s a bad idea because tax dollars could go to more useful things like the streets, construction work, and things like that that really needs done."
Ryan Singleton, muralist, Osceola:
"I feel they don’t have any tax dollars. There is no money to begin with. They’re way too far in the hole to think about anything like that. We need to simplify, we need to cut taxes. That will help the communities — not more government programs and government-guided bureaucratic waste. So that’s kind of how I see it. We need to trim back to a libertarian mentality where we’re not collecting all these taxes for bureaucracies that give one dollar in every 10 to where they’re supposed to be going. The rest go to oligarchs in Washington who are basically taking all the cream off the top of our coffee. I believe in us not gutting this country. These community organization projects will arise organically on their own when society breaks down because of all this over-fluffed oligarchical huge tax-run monstrous government breaks down, which it will - like Russia, like any other socialist system."
Chris Petersen-Grosse, grant writer, Elkhart:
"I love it. I think it’s a wonderful idea. More young people need to be involved in their communities, and I think funding the program is a great idea, and it’s a wonderful way to get young people involved in their communities." Follow-up question: And what would you say to conservatives who would differ with you? "They’re out of touch with reality."
Maria Pendley, Realtor, Bristol:
"I think it’s OK for funding if they’re going to be doing something good for the community." Follow-up question: With the tight budgets that we’re dealing with, how should we go forward as far as funding programs such as these? "Maybe they could do fundraisers or something."
Carey Camarata, IUSB student, Goshen:
"I feel it’s absolutely wrong. I feel that they have so many different programs out there. Yes, this is going to be great for the community, this is going to be great for these people, but the money is not there for these projects. Bottom line — there is no money for these projects, and we keep spending with an open pocketbook" Follow-up question: So you think the federal government should not be involved in anything like this, it should be local communities, churches and the like? "Absolutely, yes. Get the communities involved instead of the federal government. Follow-up question: How about if something like Katrina was to happen to a community. Do you still think the federal government should not be involved? "I don’t think the federal government should be involved. I believe this is why we pay our insurance. Our insurance should cover this. We pay massive amounts of dollars towards insurance and the insurance companies keep raping us and cutting our benefits on us. So the federal government should not be stepping in. The insurance companies should be paying this instead of making the big profits for their shareholders."