As part of a program to reduce $35 billion in federal government spending, Republicans are planning to eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service, which provides the funding for AmeriCorps programs.
The Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930's was a keystone of the New Deal, and helped provide economic and educational opportunity for millions of Americans. Doing the same when education is more paramount than ever, and unemployment remains high is a logical choice.
AmeriCorps programs have existed since the 1960's, following Sargent Shriver's idea for a domestic Peace Corps. The Corporation for National and Community Service was created in 1993, in order to reward individuals for their participation in the program with a minor grant for college or to pay student loans (the value of which is pegged to the Pell Grant).
To cut federal support for AmeriCorps would be a devastating blow to America's very core. AmeriCorps members commit themselves to improving communities across America for very little pay. In exchange, these volunteers develop professional skills, learn about challenges facing fellow Americans, and make a measurable difference in thousands of ways.
With local services already under tremendous strain due to state budget cuts, to deprive communities of the work done by members of the program at a far lower cost to taxpayers than other government services or private sector programs would be disastrous.
In 2009, the program received slightly less than $1 billion, and helped more than 75,000 individuals obtain higher education. While the military spends considerably more to obtain a similar goal for recruits, many Americans prefer peaceful domestic service to that alternative.
It's obvious that methods such as ending our foreign wars, reforming our outdated and ineffective tax system (including implementing a value-added tax) and rethinking our failed policies on trade would be much more effective in reducing our budget deficits and getting the economy back on track.