President Bush announced yesterday that his administration is ahead of schedule in reducing the federal deficit. Great news -- but it would be useful to ask who is paying the price. Unfortunately, one odd feature of this years' congressional campaigns has been the failure of the Democratic Party to ask that question forcefully, and focus public attention on a most interesting document: the 2006 federal budget.
Despite the array of programs developed since the 1960s to help the inner city, federal policy has largely failed to devise a strategy that both helps poor people and poor places. Urban renewal in the 1950s "revived" slum neighborhoods with bulldozers, transforming them into upscale apartment complexes. Likewise in the 1980s, shopping centers like Boston's Quincy Market and the Gallery in Philadelphia may have created a downtown retail renaissance -- but not an economic revival of poor neighborhoods for the people who live in them.