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Deficit Reduction – What are Your Priorities?

August 8th, 2011
by Colleen Rivecca

On August 2, 2011, President Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011. This legislation allows the country to raise its borrowing limit and makes significant cuts to federal spending. The legislation sets a spending cap, which enacts a total of $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years. These cuts would go into effect starting October 1, 2011, and the cuts are spread evenly among defense and non-defense programs.  Social service programs that could be affected include: Shelter plus Care, Emergency Shelter Grants, Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS, Section 8, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Americorps, WIC, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program, Ryan White HIV/AIDS programs, and Social Services Block Grant programs.

So-called “entitlement” programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Unemployment Insurance, Veterans Compensation, TANF (welfare), and SNAP (food stamps) are exempt from cuts under the spending cap, however, they’re fair game for cuts under the new twelve-member “Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction” (commonly referred to as the “supercommittee”). The supercommittee may also suggest tax reform measures as a deficit reduction strategy.

If the supercommittee doesn’t come up with a plan that achieves an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit solutions, or if the committee’s plan is rejected by Congress or the President, automatic trigger cuts of an additional $1.2 trillion to discretionary spending will go into effect in January 2013, with cuts spread evenly between defense and non-defense programs.

At the local and state levels, we’ve already seen drastic cuts to health and social service programs since the recession began.  San Francisco has lost homeless shelter beds, drop-in centers, and substance abuse treatment and mental health programs.  California has reduced SSI grants by $77/month, has eliminated dental care and Adult Day Health Care as Medi-Cal benefits, has instituted co-pays for Medi-Cal services, and has reduced CalWORKs grants for low-income families.

As House minority leader, our Congressional representative, Nancy Pelosi, will choose three members of the 12-member supercommittee.  She has made a public statement that her supercommittee appointees will protect funding for entitlement programs like Medicaid and Social Security.

What principles do you believe should guide the “supercommittee” as they try to come up with a $1.2 trillion debt relief package?  Should programs that help low-income Americans be held harmless?  Should tax reform be part of the budget-balancing package?  How would you be affected by potential cuts to any of the programs listed above? Please leave a comment to this post and let us know what you think. We will be contacting Representative Pelosi to share our views about the deficit reduction plan with her, and we will forward your comments on to her.

To send a message to your legislators, visit one of the following websites:

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7 Responses to “Deficit Reduction – What are Your Priorities?”

  1. marie Says:

    Thanks for the great help in understanding the realities of the deficit bill. I wish we could move away from a deficite/surplus concept towards an economy of sharing. Since when is it unAmerican to care for each other? Taxes have come to be seen as something “taken” from us rather that something given to support well being for all. Revenue, resource, giving, sharing…Super Committee–step up! Change the channel! Preserve the safety net and be proud of it! Many of us will support you!

  2. Craig Wilhelm Says:

    Where the hell is the anger? Americans are so apathetic it makes me sick people around the globe and have
    taken it to the street as long as we sit back and do nothing the American people are just as guilty as the PIGS
    in DC.

  3. Sudie Says:

    Taxes are the price of living in a civilized world. They give us all the things mentioned in the preamble to the Constitution. I am disgusted by the pure greed that characterizes our Congress. It’s as though the rich deserve what they get and the poor deserve the dregs. And yes, Americans should be outraged by the shenanigans of Congress, particularly tea party members who do not seem to understand that the only way to create jobs is to support a stimulus. That will require increased income for the government, i.e. taxes. I just hope we can all give more to places like St. Anthony’s, more in terms of time and money and simple caring for others.

  4. Vincent Says:

    The U.S. Government seems to have reached the dubious position of being powerless to affect change or even CONTROL over its own shortcomings. The people of this country are guilty of being extremely ignorant of how this country works. Democracy and capitalism are NOT the same!! The health of the U.S. Government is ONLY an aspect (Too Large an aspect) of the health of this country. Being poor myself I feel that entitlement programs is the price of being resposible for the people. Bailouts, stimulus programs(short term), massive bankruptcy protection, are the price of irresponsibility. The leaders of this country and our corporations are causing more problems than they are solving. The foundation of this country is burning and the only way out is for these leaders to make decisions together in order to seperate democracy from capitalism. Capitalism runs America — Democracy governs America. Fu&!@#$ Know The Difference!!!

  5. Dave Mizer Says:

    Just wanted to let you know I wrote A letter warning every one before it even happened About what the new health plan would desroy every thing for every budy before it happened HaHa was your freind beeefoooor it happened

    Daveyson

  6. tskillin Says:

    That would be a great feature—we’ll look into it! In the meantime, keep an eye on our Facebook/Twitter feeds or set up a Google Alert for St. Anthony’s. Thanks!

  7. David J. Fladlien Says:

    The difficulty here is that we are solving the problem (deficit and debt reduction) entirely the wrong way. The right way is neither increasing taxes nor cutting spending (both are suicidal in a recession which we are in no matter what the technical definition says). We need to put more money into the economy, not take money out, because what we need to do is expand the economy, put people back to work, increase business success and profits, etc. That will give us a huge increase in tax base, which in turn will give us a huge increase in revenue, without increasing taxes. That huge increase in revenue, not cuts in spending, will be the solution to the deficit reduction issue. If you think about it, this has to be the right answer. One fifth of the world is starving. No amount of tax increases or spending cuts will solve that problem; we simply must build a strong world economy which can support all the people by allowing all to be both producers and consumers. And if we are going to be the ones to start moving in that direction, we have to start by getting our house in order at home. We need to put more, not less, money into our economy to rebuild it, then use that strength to take a world leadership position in bringing that same relief to those in underdeveloped countries. We need to cut taxes and maintain spending, which will hurt our economic situation for a short time, then improve it dramatically. There is no other way that can possibly work.

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