Washington, D.C. — Half in Ten, the campaign to cut poverty in half in 10 years, called on the House to reject the Republican proposal to fund the remainder of fiscal year 2011. The proposal seeks to reduce the deficit on the backs of vulnerable Americans who suffered the most in the Great Recession while slashing investments necessary for future economic growth and broad-based prosperity.
“This is an irresponsible cocktail of cuts that would undermine our economic growth and exacerbate poverty and inequality,” said Melissa Boteach, Half in Ten campaign manager. “The Republicans’ proposal to reduce the deficit by recklessly slashing domestic discretionary spending would inflict enormous pain for very little deficit reduction gain.”
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a Half in Ten partner, said, “The proposed cuts include many programs that strengthen economic security for low-income families and provide them access to opportunities that are essential to achieving the American Dream. Instead of rebuilding our middle class, these cuts to job training, community health centers, affordable housing, and home energy assistance will only impede our economic recovery.”
Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs and a Half in Ten partner, also criticized the House Appropriations Committee’s approach. “This is an extreme and reckless proposal, terminating jobs programs that are turning around the lives of poor youth, making paralyzing cuts to community health centers, forcing as many as 200,000 children out of Head Start, and slashing emergency food, shelter, and heating assistance at a time when poverty and joblessness retain a tenacious grip on millions of families.”
The Obama administration today also released its FY2012 budget, which emphasized making America more competitive while simultaneously tackling our deficit. The president’s budget proposed a number of critical investments in American human capital but also includes cuts that would be detrimental to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
The president’s request included a five-year domestic discretionary funding freeze, while at the same time investing in K-12 education, Head Start, childcare, and tackling homelessness.,. “The president’s budget underscores that you can make strategic investments to grow our economy, even in the context of fiscal austerity,” said Winnie Stachelberg, Senior Vice President for External Affairs at Center for American Progress Action Fund. “At the same time, we are concerned about proposed deep cuts to programs assisting our nation’s low and moderate income families.”
Among the proposals of serious concern to Half in Ten are the president’s request to cut by 50 percent the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and a 50 percent cut to the Community Services Block Grant. The former helps vulnerable families heat and cool their homes while the latter helps community action agencies in more than 1,000 localities across the country to provide services such as heating aid and energy conservation, job training, Head Start, and emergency aid to more than 20 million low-income people. .
“The president’s budget makes welcome investments in education and Head Start that will contribute to economic growth,” said Weinstein. “But its cuts to services with a demonstrated track record of lifting people out of poverty undermine the goal of economic progress for all.”
“One hundred million people—or one in three Americans—are scraping by with incomes below twice the poverty level,” stated Boteach. “As they consider the president’s budget request and come to consensus on appropriations for the rest of this fiscal year, members of Congress should consider the effects of deep cuts on the families that rely on human needs programs to make ends meet and what such cuts would mean for America’s future.”