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Thursday: Call on How “Fiscal Cliff” Threatens Those in Poverty in the U.S. and Abroad

Meredith Dodson, Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns
December 11, 2012

As Congress works to craft a deficit reduction package, it could very well impact all the poverty-focused work RESULTS has spent decades on, both for people here in the U.S. and for people all around the world  -- programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit (CTC), SNAP (formerly Food Stamps)Head Start,  child care assistance, and strategic, compassionate, poverty-focused foreign assistance. These programs face threats in both any immediate legislation to address the fiscal cliff since cuts to specific programs or overall non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs might be used as part of the “down payment” to avert the cliff.  Read below for more details.

Do you want to understand the fiscal cliff? Do you want training on how to better speak about poverty and the budget? Listen to our Budget Showdown and Laser Talk Training Call from Thursday, December 13. I explain the current budget showdown being played out in Washington and how you can take action to make a difference in the process. For more on how to make your voice heard, check out our laser talk guide to help you better speak about these issues. 

More on the Threats to Anti-Poverty Programs

While Congress will not make any specific cuts to specific discretionary or NDD programs in the next few weeks, they still face budget threats. Last year’s Budget Control Act included over $1 trillion in cuts through caps to discretionary (annually funded) programs such as foreign aid, Head Start, child care assistance, and WIC. To reach a deal, we could see additional caps on overall discretionary funding. These programs are already operating on bare bone budgets and we cannot balance the budget at the expense of smart, compassionate, poverty-fighting solutions that assist children and families around the world.

TAKE ACTION: Use our December Global action sheet to raise your voice for the preservation of foreign assistance! And, e-mail Congress telling them to protect Head Start and child care using our early childhood action alert.


In addition, Congress might include cuts to “mandatory” or entitlement programs, either in the first down payment package or in a second round of legislation. RESULTS U.S. poverty volunteers continue to focus our efforts on shoring up support for one of the most effective poverty-reduction tools in the U.S. — tax credits for low-income families. New Census data shows that Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) lifted 8.7 million people out of poverty last year. This includes many military families (see this blogpost for examples) and single working parents. Overall, the EITC is the nation’s best tool for reducing poverty among children and that it offers families temporary support working families need to climb out of poverty. These key tax credits face two threats: that critical expansions to the EITC and CTC will expire this year, and that they will face deep cuts in a broader deficit reduction package. The Tax Policy Center estimates that if the improvements enacted under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) expire as scheduled, 11 million working families will lose an average of $854 from their Child Tax Credit, and 7 million families will lose an average of $532 from their EITC. And, deep cuts to EITC and CTC for low-income that are part of a broader budget deal could be devastating to millions more families.

TAKE ACTION: Call the tax aides in your House and both Senate offices about the EITC and CTC. The December Action has all the information you need for your conversation. For many, this is a follow up to a request that you’ve made already -- checking to see if they asked his/her boss to speak to Senate (Sens. Reid/McConnell) or House (Reps. Boehner/Pelosi) leadership, requesting that:

  1. They make the expiring improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent
  2. They support a principle that specifically protects the EITC and CTC from cuts in any deficit reduction framework.

If you cannot call, send an email to your members of Congress to protect the EITC and CTC in deficit reduction negotiations using RESULTS online email action.


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) also faces serious cuts, perhaps beyond the $4 billion in cuts over 10 years passed by the Senate last summer as a part of their new Farm Bill. RESULTS staff continue to join allies in lobby meetings with Congress and at the White House, urging policymakers to make protecting programs for low-income families, and specifically SNAP, a priority in negotiations.

TAKE ACTION: You can amplify this work by e-mailing Congress using our protect nutrition programs action alert and also urge them to reject deep cuts to Medicaid and Children's Health using our health care action alert.


And, are you on social media? We urge you to weigh in – see our blogpost: Three Great Ongoing Social Media Advocacy Campaigns to Get Involved With! for details.

Join the movement to end poverty! RESULTS regularly hosts Introductory Calls, including one this Friday. These 30-45 minute calls are perfect for people looking to be inspired about advocacy and learn more about RESULTS and our work. The next call is Friday, December 14, at 1 pm ET. You can register for an upcoming call at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.  For more information about RESULTS and how you can make a difference, including our work in communities across the country to create the political will to end poverty, please visit our website: www.results.org.

Online Discussion 

Please note the comments expressed on this page are not necessarily those of RESULTS or RESULTS Educational Fund.

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