On a surface level it seems almost silly not to be in support of a program intended to bring about aid to those in need across America, but opponents to the expansion of AmeriCorps raise several key points about the timing, cost, and in essence the “mandate” to serve. The House has already backed the bill to expand AmeriCorps and other national service programs by 175,000 participants and generating new groups to help poor communities. Recently the Senate has agreed to bring up legislation to a final vote soon (expected sometime this week) that would triple the current size of AmeriCorps and create new groups as well focusing helping the poor, clean energy, veteran services, education, and energy efficiency.

Supporters state that now is the time for such a bill, that this is the opportunity for many to give back to their communities in need. This has been a part of Obama’s campaign, and on his website he states three basic goals to the expansion of service. Number one being that he will enable all Americans to serve, two to integrate service into learning (middle school and high school students required 50 hours a year), and three an overall investment in the nonprofit sector. AmeriCorps not only provide great opportunities to serve and give back, but also opportunities for tax deductions, money for future education and paying back student loans, and even working living stipends.

However opponents of the new legislation bring up the questions in relation to the timing and the cost of such a massive expansion. The House measure is estimated to cost over $6 billion in the next five years. Some republicans are also arguing that a government paying volunteer service limits the amount of unpaid volunteers for other nonprofit and volunteer services. Obama states, “At this moment of economic crisis, when so many people are in need of help and so much needs to be done, this could not be more urgent.” Yet to some against the legislation it is that sense of urgency that is in question, no doubt this is the time to help those in need, but is it the time for costly spending and expansion of services? With the ultimate question that always divides so many Republicans and Democrats, is it the government’s responsibility? Is it their role to bring us to serve?

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