Spotlight Exclusives

Coalition Letter to Congress and the White House: Don’t Balance the Budget on the Backs of the Poor

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Last week Congressman Paul Ryan(R-WI) joined Spotlight for an audio conference to discuss his views on poverty, opportunity and the budget. This week OOTS is highlighting a different perspective on the budget—leaders from 25 leading organizations have just released a letter urging lawmakers to protect programs that support low-income Americans.

Signatories include representatives from a diverse group of organizations, including:

  • Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Jim Wallis, Sojourners
  • Deborah Weinstein, Coalition on Human Needs
  • Wade Henderson, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund
  • Alan Houseman, Center for Law and Social Policy

Many others joined in signing the letter, which urges the President and Congress to “protect programs for low-income families and individuals and make sure that deficit reduction is achieved in a way that does not increase poverty.” The letter suggests that lawmakers look to past deficit reduction plans for inspiration noting that, “the 1990, 1993, and 1997 deficit reduction packages, which improved the Earned Income Tax Credit, strengthened the SNAP program or created the Children’s Health Insurance Program, show that reducing poverty and expanding effective low-income assistance programs is fully consistent with deficit reduction.”

Along with the letter, some signatories released additional statements.  Deepak Bhargava from the Center for Community Change said that “Protecting the programs that serve families in need is a vital component of any budget negotiations.”  Alan Houseman from the Center for Law and Social Policy acknowledged the “tough choices” in budget negotiations, but insisted that “we also must consider deeper questions such as what kind of nation we want to be now and in the future. As lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said, deficit reduction should protect the truly needy.”

To see the full text of the letter and statements from signatories, click here.

There’s no question that low-income Americans have a lot at stake as budget talks continue.  OOTS will be closely following the discussion as it continues.


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