How We Can Join The Fight Against Radical Spending Cuts

Enough — at least for the time being — about radical spending-cut plans in Congress. Here’s some good news.

The Coalition on Human Needs and allies have launched what promises to be a massive campaign against the cuts. It’s called SAVE (Strengthening America’s Values and Economy) for All.

SAVE for All is a large and growing coalition of faith-based, labor, civil rights, direct service and policy analysis organizations committed to a balanced approach to deficit reduction — and one that will foster opportunity and economic security for all Americans.

They’ve developed a statement of principles, formed working groups, initiated meetings with members of Congress and laid the groundwork for a broad-based grassroots effort.

All this in an amazingly short-period of time. I’ve been around long enough to have witnessed lots of coalition campaigns on similar issues. I’ve never seen one with as much cohesion, energy and strategic expertise.

But what can we do? At least one thing right now — maybe more depending on where we live and the type of organization we work for.

1. Put a human face on the issues.

We can all share stories about how federal programs have improved our lives and/or the lives of people we know.

It’s one thing — and an important thing — to say that, according to the latest Census figures, food stamps kept 4.8 million people from falling below the federal poverty line.

Quite another, more personally-compelling thing to tell members of Congress, the media and, through them, the public how food stamps kept you and your children from going hungry. Or if you work for a service provider, how food stamps have supported your efforts to help your clients.

Half in Ten is partnering with CHN to collect brief stories, written and video. It plans to put some of them into an online interactive map so that members of Congress can learn directly how federally-funded programs have made a positive difference in the lives of their constituents.

These stories will also be enormously helpful to advocates at state and local levels, as well as those in the halls of Congress. Just think what you could do with a good story or two in an op-ed or letter to the editor.

Stories won’t take long to write, since they shouldn’t be more than 250 words. Videos need not be professional quality. Check out the additional guidance here. Then look at the suggested topic areas, draft or record and go back to the same page to send your story for the collection.

2. Help the coalition grow.

If you work for an organization that falls into any of the categories above, sign the statement of principles on its behalf. Or share the principles and the opportunity with someone who has the authority to sign.

CHN will be collecting signatures from national organizations for the indefinite future. The initial deadline for state and local organizations is February 16. But that doesn’t mean that later endorsements won’t be added.

3. Tell your Senators to stand up for the interests of low-income people.

Those of you who have Senators can urge them to protect the programs low-income people depend on when the continuing resolution comes over to their side of the Hill — and in the challenging days beyond. Half in Ten has an editable form letter you can use.

Best we who live in the District can do is pass the word along our fully-enfranchised friends and relatives. Our community needs the at-risk funding as much as any. So I think it’s well worth our time.

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