It’s time for those of us who care about the needs of low-income people to advocate a conservative position.
As you probably know, programs that serve these needs are at high risk as the President seeks to forge a compromise that will avert a default on the federal debt.
The Republicans are demanding at least $2 trillion in spending cuts, along with “reforms” in Medicare — maybe other so-called entitlements too.
They’ve said they won’t accept tax increases of any sort, betting that the President and other Democrats at the table will cave to avert an unprecedented economic crisis — even if it means throwing poor people under the bus.
It’s hard to imagine a spending-cut-only plan in the trillions that wouldn’t.
There’s nothing conservative about this. It’s a radical departure from a long-standing consensus that deficit reduction plans should, at the very least, protect programs for low-income people.
All the deficit reduction plans passed in the last 25 years did. Several of them actually strengthened anti-poverty measures, e.g., by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Children’s Health Insurance Program came into being as part of the Clinton era Balanced Budget Act.
Even President Obama’s deficit hawkish fiscal commission adopted, as a guiding principle, “protect the truly disadvantaged.”
The true conservative position is thus to conserve programs that mitigate poverty and offer low-income people opportunities for a better life.
The programs need to be protected from specific near-term budget cuts and also from any automatic cuts that would be triggered if Congress fails to achieve some as-yet undetermined deficit or debt reduction targets in the future.
Leaders of major national faith-based, civil rights, charitable, economic research and advocacy organizations have written the President, the Vice President and the Congressional leaders of both parties urging them to “honor the precedent set by previous deficit reduction negotiations.”
The Coalition on Human Needs tells us that we need to join our voices to theirs. The stakes are alarmingly high and the clock is ticking.
Here are two quick, easy ways to let the President know that we want him to stand firm for the conservative principles of past deficit reduction plans — protection for programs that serve low-income people and revenue raisers that will help make the total package balanced and fair.
We can leave a message on the White House comment line. The toll-free number is 888-245-0215.
We can also use this editable e-mail provided by the Half in Ten campaign.