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Authors

Blalock

Abstract

In the previous article, Weinert challenged social workers, and other professionals in the area of social welfare, to commit themselves to greater collective political action in the interest of substantial social change. He suggested that there are many options for movement in that direction. This article briefly discusses one incremental option within the established political system, intervention within the new Congressional budgetary process. This is not an insignificant strategy. Its purpose is to influence the way the national budget is constructed. The budget incorporates to an important degree the society's prevailing definition of its priorities. Furthermore, future policy alternatives are vitally affected by budget decisions, as mandated budget authority strongly restricts future social policy alternatives.

Therefore, an understanding of the meaning of the new Congressional Budget Act and some of the problems in its implementation is critical to developing an effective strategy for impacting that process. The Act offers a significant opportunity to individual citizens and organized groups to change the direction of national priorities, among them welfare and warfare. It provides a relatively fixed time schedule around which collective action can be organized, and it identifies the individuals and committees necessary to approach. A strategy built around this process is appropriate to the social work profession. Many social welfare professionals are excellently qualified to perform the policy analysis tasks and to construct the crucial political coalitions which support this kind of intervention. Social workers' knowledge of domestic needs, and of the strengths and weaknesses of existing social service delivery systems, place them in a privileged position to utilize the innovations provided in the new Act. Moreover, the implications of their mobilizing around the budgetary cycle can extend well beyond the territory of the federal budget itself.

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