RESULTS and our Allies Working Together to SAVE Programs that Help the Poor
Ann Beltran, RESULTS Domestic Volunteer Lobbyist
March 14, 2011
While RESULTS Domestic groups have been focused on preventing cuts to Head Start and child care programs, we have also been actively participating here in D.C. in the broad and deep Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) Strengthening America’s Values and Economy for All campaign or "SAVE for All." SAVE for All is working to hold the line on spending cuts that hurt the poor and vulnerable.
The SAVE coalition (over 1000 organizations strong) formed early this year to meet the challenges presented by the Republican House-led attack on “non-defense domestic discretionary" spending. These are domestic programs funded on a yearly basis and comprise about the 14% of the federal budget. This part of the budget covers many programs that aid the poor including Head Start and child care programs, community health centers, low-income housing, Pell grants for students, job training and employment services, and low-income energy assistance. See the chart below from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on how various proposals deal with cuts to domestic discretionary spending:
SAVE for All calls upon the Obama Administration and Congress to:
- Protect low-and moderate-income people in budget and deficit reduction proposals
- Prevent multi-year appropriations caps that force harsh reductions in human needs services, and
- Support deficit reduction plans that include additional revenues drawn from equitable sources (the latter includes opposing the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction framework of two-thirds spending cuts and only one-third revenue increases)
You can read all six principles of SAVE for All at: http://chn.org/pdf/2011/SAVEForAll_finalstatementFeb1.pdf.
SAVE for All members have also been meeting with congressional offices on the principles, which have included RESULTS volunteers in home districts as well. For example, RESULTS Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson and I joined two RESULTS Colorado partners on the line during a visit with staffperson from the office of Senator Mark Udall (D-CO). Having constituents on line speaking for low-income Americans is powerful and elevates our meetings to a higher level of engagement.
What lies ahead are the very turbulent waters of April and May. It is expected that the government will be operating under another continuing resolution (CR) through April 8. However, this is inching a closer to a critical vote on raising the government "debt ceiling," which allows the U.S. government to continue to borrow money to cover its debts. Failure to pass it could result an international economic catastrophe. To leverage additional cuts, Republicans are threatening to vote down the debt ceiling increase unless cuts to mandatory programs (specifically Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) are included. President Obama wants that to be dealt with separately after that vote.
A bipartisan group of senators (Mark Warner (D-VA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Mike Crapo (R-ID), along with Vice-President Joe Biden are working to break the gridlock. While it is a good sign that work is being done to find a meaningful resolution, critics fear this group will adopt many of the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, headed up by former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles under President Clinton. While the commission never adopted a final report, Simpson and Bowles did release their recommendations, which called for twice as many cuts in public services as revenue increases (as well as a cap on federal revenue at an arbitrary level of 21% of the economy) to deal with the deficit.
RESULTS agrees that our long-term deficit and debt problems must be addressed. However, many economists agree that job creation is the best antidote, both immediately and long-term. A large portion of our current deficits are being caused by high-unemployment and lower wages (along with the Bush tax cuts and the ongoing wars in the Middle East), as a result of the economic downturn. Getting people good-paying and stable jobs will increase revenue and go a long way in reducing the deficit. On the other hand, cutting programs that help America’s most vulnerable will do little to address the problem but a great deal of harm for millions of people across the nation. As grassroots advocates, we need to do all we can to push back against these short-sighted and harmful policies. You can start by signing your local RESULTS group on as a sponsor of the SAVE for All Principles at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/125/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5703.