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December 18, 2012 | Elizabeth Lower-Basch
What's at Stake for Low-Income Individuals in the Fiscal Cliff?

Low-income people will be affected by many aspects of the fiscal cliff; however, they will be even more affected by some of the Congressional proposals to avoid the cliff. The bottom line measure of any proposal should be whether it increases poverty and inequality.

August 14, 2012 | Alan Houseman
So What Is "Sequestration"? And More Importantly, What Do These Spending Cuts Mean for Hard-Working and Low-Income Families?

What is sequestration? A) What the doctor tells you to do when you have the flu B) A new dance craze spreading on YouTube C) The latest Mars explorer D) Budgetary rules that could result in deep, automatic and indiscriminate spending cuts starting in January.

July 26, 2012 | Patrick Reihmerr and Elizabeth Lower-Basch
Senate Lays the Groundwork for Fair Deficit Reduction

The Senate has approved a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for those making under $250,000 a year—98 percent of all Americans. The passage of the Middle Class Tax Cut Act (S.3412) marks a significant step toward the principle of a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with new revenues as well as spending cuts. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the bill would save the U.S. nearly $1 trillion over 10 years.

May 9, 2012 | Helly Lee
House Priorities about Protecting Defense Spending at Expense of Low-Income Families

This week, the House Budget Committee debated and passed a harsh and unbalanced budget package that takes drastic measures to protect the defense budget-while making deep cuts to programs helping low-income working families and communities. The reconciliation bill is expected to make its way to the House floor for a vote this Thursday, May 10.

OCTOBER 27, 2011 | By Jenice R. Robinson and Hannah Matthews
Dear Super Committee...

Washington's problem is not spending and taxing. It's problem is a failure to understand that real economic recovery and growth that benefits the country as a whole and families at all levels will only come when comprehensive policy solutions are put on the table-solutions that take a balanced approach in raising taxes, reducing spending, reducing deficits and sustaining the vital hand of government for those in need. Read More >>

OCTOBER 20, 2011  | by CLASP
Super Committee Deadline Around the Corner
The Super Committee's Nov. 23 deadline is around the corner. We recognize that they have tough decisions to make.  At the same time, they should recognize that American families are faced with tough conditions every day including stagnating wages and income, widespread economic insecurity, and rising health care costs. Read More >>

SEPTEMBER 27, 2011  | By Vicki Choitz
Threats to Pell Grants Remain

As Congress weighs how to fund the government in 2012 and the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction continues its work to cut about $1.2 trillion from the deficit, funding for the Pell Grant program continues to be under threat in two specific ways. Read More >>

AUGUST 31, 2011  | By Abigail Newcomer
Don't Trade Significant Decrease in Child Poverty for Deficit Reduction
While the best way to improve the wellbeing of the nation's children is to ensure their parents have jobs with family-sustaining wages, the Urban Institute study demonstrates safety net programs have a profound impact on children. What's more, these programs can only truly support the wellbeing of children if they work together.  Read More >>

AUGUST 05, 2011  | By Jenice R. Robinson and Hannah Matthews
One Nation, Divisible
Since lawmakers began talking in earnest about deficit reduction last year, they've thrown around the phrase, "shared sacrifice." But as is, the bill pays lip service to that principle ....If this warped notion of "shared sacrifice" persists, low-income families will have to do without even more, while those at the highest income levels will not be asked to shoulder any of the burden of deficit reduction. Read More >>

AUGUST 4 2011  |  By CLASP 

Plans to Reduce the Nation's Defict Should Protect the Disadvantaged

Those with the least should not be asked to give up the most, but this is exactly what those who say the nation must make tough choices are asking when they refuse to take a broad look at all spending and revenue yet call for deep program cuts to early education, job training, workforce development, and education programs, or call for strict spending caps that would starve programs of necessary funding needed to meet need.

AUGUST 01, 2011 | By Alan W. Houseman

CLASP Statement on Debt Ceiling Compromise
After weeks of political posturing and brinksmanship, the nation can exhale now that leaders have finally agreed upon a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling. Like others, we believe it is essential that Congress and the White House reach a compromise to avert a potential financial collapse, but we cannot pretend that this deal is reason to cheer. Read More >>

JULY 19, 2011 | By Amit Jain

Losing Sight of What's at Stake
Economists from across the political spectrum warn of catastrophic consequences if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling before August 2, after which the U.S. government will lack the funds to meet its obligations without borrowing more. But as this deadline approaches, many members of Congress continue to use it to extract unconscionable funding cuts. Some have publicly expressed doubt that the ceiling needs to be increased at all. However, a recent report by the Bipartisan Policy Center confirms that these lawmakers are dead wrong: failing to raise the debt ceiling would be catastrophic for all Americans, especially the low-income families bearing the brunt of the economic downturn.

JULY 14, 2011 | By Marcie Foster

Cuts to Adult Education Would Hurt More Than Just Students
For nearly 90 million low-skilled adults in the U.S., the chance at a better life rests on their access to education that can help them upgrade their skills, earn a high school diploma or GED, prepare for college and get a better job. One of the largest sources of educational funds available for these students is adult education funding provided through the Workforce Investment Act.  Adult education is a significant and invaluable asset to our nation's recovery and future prosperity, yet pressure to make deep cuts to discretionary spending-including education programs-could threaten their very existence. Read More >>

JULY 12, 2011  |  By Abigail Newcomer and Elizabeth Kenefick

Balanced Budget Amendment Sounds Good in Theory, Devastating in Practice
The idea of amending the constitution to require lawmakers to balance the federal budget is not new. In recent decades, it arose a number of times as a "no nonsense" solution to curb government spending. However, each time Congress evaluated this proposal on its merits, it determined a balanced budget amendment is better in theory than in practice. And it is an especially bad idea during periods of economic decline because it would devastate public programs that support individuals at the very times when their salaries and hours decrease or their jobs disappear.

JUNE 29, 2011  |  By Jenice R. Robinson

How Quickly We Forget
Stories of families' struggles have fast faded from the headlines and been usurped by the deficit reduction debate. Instead of talking about the millions of families who are worse off now than they were before the recent recession began, political discussions are focused on how much to cut from domestic, non-defense discretionary spending.  Instead of developing policies to put people back to work and debating how to address the declining middle class and growing income inequality, lawmakers are discussing how deeply they should cut poverty-alleviating programs.

JUNE 28, 2011  |  By CLASP

Deficit Reduction: Plans to Reduce Annual Deficits Should Not Increase Poverty or Inequality
We have a choice about our future, and the decisions we make now will weigh heavily in the kind of nation we are in the short- and long term. Making the right choice requires all of us to recognize that America needs government, and our government must have sound leadership and adequate revenue to function.

JUNE 22, 2011  |  By Elizabeth Kenefick

Medicaid Beneficiaries Are Not Who You Think
It is politically expedient to support deficit reduction in the abstract, whether in the form of spending caps or balanced budget amendments.  But these mechanisms - particularly when lawmakers refuse to consider revenue raisers such as ending tax breaks for the wealthy or closing corporate tax loopholes - inherently mean that the most vulnerable will be affected deeply and disproportionately. Read more >>

JUNE 17, 2011  |  By Amit Jain

The Wrong Tool: Funding for Safety Net Hinges on Debt Ceiling
The federal debt ceiling has become a pawn in the debate over how to reduce the federal deficit. The Treasury Department has said Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2 so the government can continue to fulfill its obligations, but some lawmakers are using this deadline to push for draconian spending cuts to domestic programs that would do little to address the nation's long-term structural deficit. Read more >>

JUNE 17, 2011  |  By Hannah Matthews

Child Care Cuts Would Affect Us All
Across the country, in town halls and other venues, Americans are realizing that budget cuts will have a real impact on their everyday lives. I, for one, expect the government to be there for my family in many ways, including by establishing and enforcing basic child care standards. Scrutinizing federal spending is important at this time of record deficits; however, harmful measures that will slash supports and protections for over 12 million children in child care in this country are not in the best interest of the country or any of our children.

JUNE 16, 2011  |  By Vickie Choitz

Reality Check: Nation Cannot Afford Pell Cuts for Nontraditional Students
The national discourse on deficit reduction has shifted to how much to cut from domestic programs, a decidedly narrow focus that wrongly makes programs that benefit low-income people a ripe target. Among the targets for deep cuts is the Pell grant program. It's a convenient scapegoat since program expenditures have increased with rising student need. Discretionary Pell program costs grew from $16.1 billion in 2008-2009 to $23 billion in 2010-2011 and are expected to reach $34.4 billion in 2011-2012. The number of recipients is expected to grow from 6.2 million in 2008-2009 to a projected 9.4 million in 2011-2012, representing a 52 percent increase. Read More>>

JUNE 14, 2011  | By CLASP

Off-Balance: Proposal to Balance the Budget Drastic, Unrealistic and Harmful to all Americans
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is considering a bill that would make an annual balanced federal budget constitutional law. While it is true that the nation must work to get its deficit under control, the bill is a plan not for balance but rather for dismantling the government and weakening programs and services on which all Americans rely. This fact sheet outlines the proposal and its potential effects on the nation. 
Read more>>

JUNE 14, 2011 | By Linda E. Perle

Legal Services Corporation Funding for 2012: Uncertainty and Concern About Proposed Reductions
It should be a fundamental principle that deficit reduction should be designed in ways that protect low-income people.  Yet, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is facing worrisomely drastic cuts that would have big impacts on the number of low-income people who receive basic legal assistance.

MAY 13, 2011  | by Elizabeth Lower-Basch

Assault on the Safety Net Continues
In December, Congress and President Obama came to a bipartisan compromise, continuing extended unemployment insurance through the end of 2011 and extending tax cuts for two years.  However, this week, the Ways and Means Committee voted along party lines to undermine that compromise, and allow states to raid benefits for the long-term unemployed in order to shore up their trust funds and provide tax breaks to corporations. Read more >>

APRIL 14, 2011  | by Rutledge Q. Hutson

House Budget Plan Would Have More Kids Sliding Into the Child Welfare System
Last week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan laid out the House's plan for spending in Fiscal Year 2012 - calling it a "Path to Prosperity" and "Restoring America's Promise."  He speaks of a choice between two futures, but the choices he proposes are the wrong ones if he wants to keep the nation's commitment to our most vulnerable children, to restore America's promise and provide them with a pathway to prosperity. Read more >>

APRIL 14, 2011  | by Elizabeth Lower-Basch

Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Even those who care most about policies may find their eyes glazing over when the conversation switches from cuts in specific programs to the budgetary rules.  Yet these establish the playing field - and can tilt the results one way or the other, as when the House says that spending increases must be offset or balanced with cuts elsewhere, while tax loopholes can be added without regard to the deficit. Read more >>

APRIL 13, 2011  | by Hannah Matthews

2011 Budget Coming to a Close, Gearing Up for 2012
Most importantly, the battle over 2012 funding has already begun. The House is expected to also vote this week on Budget Committee Chairman Ryan's budget proposal that would slash spending and institute procedural mechanisms that would have devastating impacts on poor children and families for many years to come. The gains that early childhood programs saw in 2011 will mean nothing if Ryan's proposals move forward in 2012. Read more >> 

APRIL 11, 2011  | By Elizabeth Lower-Basch

Lessons Learned
In 1995 and 1996, the Republican-controlled Congress sought to convert into block grants three key programs for low-income families -- Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Food Stamps, and Medicaid.  The welfare reform bill that Congress ultimately passed and President Bill Clinton signed into law did block grant AFDC, now renamed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), but left the fundamental structure of the other two programs alone. Read More >> 

APRIL 5, 2011  | By Alan W. Houseman

House Budget Proposal Is Political and Disingenuous
Leaders from the left and right, through the deficit commission and other venues, have called for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not lean on sleight of hand or the poor to fix the problems we face.  The House budget proposal pays lip service to this principle, while violating it at every turn. Read more >> 

MARCH 25, 2011  | By Alan W. Houseman

Deficit Reduction, Job Creation, Family Economic Security Shouldn't be Mutually Exclusive
Both Democrats and Republicans have said the budget shouldn't be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable. This should be a key principle in budget negotiations, not a talking point. Read more >>

FEBRUARY 16, 2011  | by Neil Ridley 

House Proposes Drastic Cuts to Workforce Programs Serving the Unemployed and Low-Income Adults and Youth
While it is important to begin a conversation about the size of the debt and federal deficit, it is equally important to maintain critical employment and training programs that help many Americans find jobs and build skills necessary to secure better jobs. Read more >>

FEBRUARY 14, 2011  | by Alan W. Houseman

Balancing the Budget Requires Honest, Balanced Discourse
The harsh reality is that Main Street continues to struggle while Wall Street prospers. The stock market is rallying, corporate profits are up, and economists have said the recent recession ended 20 months ago. But this hasn't translated into plush times or even improved economic wellbeing for the masses. Read more >>

FEBRUARY 14, 2011  | by Hannah Matthews and Danielle Ewen

House, President Propose Budgets: Divergent Views on Early Childhood Funding
In the context of a large federal deficit, severe state revenue crises, and unacceptably high unemployment, the president's budget strikes a delicate balance and recognizes that a key to shared, long-term economic prosperity is ensuring families have the supports and tools they need to endure tough economic times.  Read more >>

FEBRUARY 2, 2011 | by Hannah Matthews

Indiscriminate Budget Cuts at What Toll?
As our state and federal policymakers move forward and begin weighing how to balance budgets, they must also consider the sweeping implications for human services cuts-and that, beyond the numbers and the fictitious scenarios, there are real children and families whose lives will be affected. Read more >>


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