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Legislative Update

January 16, 2013

Fiscal Cliff Avoided – But the Work is not Complete

In the early hours of January 1, 2013, the Senate and then the House agreed to increase revenue by returning about 0.6% of the wealthiest Americans to the tax rates paid prior to the Bush era tax cuts went into effect.  All of us who EARN a living will see our paychecks lessen as the payroll tax holiday has ended.  This is a mere beginning of what needs to take place to put our nation on a firm economic footing. There was NO DEAL to find savings, nothing was done to curb the tax loopholes allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying some (if not all) of their fair share of caring for our nation’s people and infrastructure.

NETWORK is grateful that we are not facing the ramifications of going over the cliff (or sliding down a steep slope). 

However, we recognize that people struggling at the margins remain in great jeopardy. Our infrastructure (roads, bridges, schools, public buildings, transportation systems,….) is still crumbling, and has not been aided by the latest deal. Recent cuts ($1.6 trillion over 10 years) to discretionary programs halted repair of our infrastructure, increasing unemployment – as eliminating jobs is the only way federal spending cuts gain significant savings. 

There are dangers ahead, as Congress looks to ways to pay our debts, to reduce the deficit, to complete the budget for the current fiscal year, and to develop a budget for FY2014 which begins October 1, 2013. NETWORK encourages balanced spending and revenue changes done with a fine brush, rather than broad sweeps.

We ask you to help encourage your legislators to make changes which will protect the most vulnerable and require fair support of our nation by those most able to give it.

Sequestration calls for across-the-board cuts of approximately 8%. This is a broad sweep, many important means of supporting the most vulnerable will be damaged, perhaps eliminated. A more fine-tuned approach to savings is necessary.

Reasonable Revenue for Responsible Programs is a strong sound-byte; but also an important message. Varied loopholes allow some millionaires and some of the most profitable corporations to pay zero income tax in some years.  This needs to stop. There is a broad swath of government-funded programs, many are responsible for keeping people from starving, from sleeping in the streets and assist them with work-supports so they can support their families.  Others are less responsible. The Pentagon has never been audited and does not feel it can be before at least 2017. Most corporations request bids for contracts in order to get the best service for the money; however the Pentagon frequently does not. Construction companies face fines and added expenses for time and cost over-runs. The Pentagon regularly provides additional money to companies when this occurs. These are examples of irresponsible programs.

In the next few weeks, legislators will face reaching the debt limit and sequestration. The President is resolute that these are not to be a bargaining chip for making greater cuts to human needs programs. However, there will be strong support in the House for:

  • Cutting, possibly restructuring, Medicare and Medicaid
  • Making further cuts to human needs discretionary programs
  • Cutting SNAP benefits to those needing food assistance

as many follow Speaker Boehner in wanting $1 in cuts for every $1 by which we raise the debt limit or replace across-the-board cuts in the sequester.

NETWORK needs you to help convince your Representative and Senators that efforts to put our economic house in order must be balanced, protect the most vulnerable and require the greatest support from those with the greatest capacity to provide it.

Please tell your Representative and Senators that, as they negotiate the reaching the debt limit and sequestration, they should:

  • Cut Pentagon spending by eliminating sources of irresponsible spending (“no-bid” contracts, compensating companies for time and cost over-runs, etc.) Demand that the Pentagon be audited annually.
  • Continue to provide nutrition assistance to the most vulnerable in our nation through SNAP, WIC and other supplemental programs; and protect the health of those who rely on Medicaid
  • Reform the tax code to eliminate loopholes.

Over the next months, NETWORK will continue work to bring about greater economic justice.