CLC Letter to Congress--National Deficit
April 14, 2011
Dear Member of Congress,
During the economic downturn, and the ensuing debates concerning recommendations for spending and allocating federal dollars, an often used argument has been equating the cuts in spending made by Congress to those being made by millions of American families. This argument however, is fundamentally flawed. As a result of the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and the ensuing unemployment crisis, those families have no other choice than to significantly curtail spending on basic necessities. American families from all walks of life are increasingly turning to SNAP (food stamps) as they can no longer afford to feed their children; similarly, children whose families would have been too wealthy to qualify for Medicaid just a few years ago now rely on this critical service to obtain access to proper health care. If given the choice, few American families would choose to cut their budgets so drastically, and would certainly not choose the subsequent ill-effects on their children.
Congress, however, has a choice. Unfortunately, as was evidenced by HR1, and is currently made clear by the Ryan budget resolution, that choice is to continue to place the onus of sacrifice on those who have the least to give. The proposal contained in the Ryan budget resolution to block grant Medicaid would deny millions of children the basic care needed to grow into healthy adults, while the massive cuts proposed to discretionary spending would gut services such as Early Head Start and Head Start, causing millions of children to lose access to quality early childhood education during their most critical formative years. The proposed cuts in the Ryan budget to Pell Grants would make college out of reach for millions of American students; and, at a time when one in four American children suffers from food insecurity, a reduction in funding for SNAP (food stamps) would force millions of American children to go to bed hungry.
The rationale given for these devastating cuts is that they are necessary to stave off future economic problems that would result from a rising deficit. In reality what these cuts would do is create a massive deficit of potential in our nation’s children. If the Ryan budget resolution were to pass, today’s children, like their parents, will be left with few choices. In the case of our children, however, this lack of choice will result from being denied the opportunity to build the strong early foundation that government funded services for children and youth are designed to create.
Our nation is at a turning point, and it is the responsibility of lawmakers to determine the direction of our country’s future. The undersigned members of the Children’s Leadership Council ask that Congress make the choice to steer the nation in a direction that will enable our children to thrive. We ask that you look to other sources of revenue, such as asking those who can most afford it to contribute to deficit reduction; and carefully examine all areas of the budget, including corporate tax exemptions, and defense spending. Finally, we ask that you strengthen-- not weaken -- the nation's children and youth by investing in education, nutrition, hunger relief, housing and basic services. And we ask that you support -- not destroy -- the successful safety net of healthcare services for the poor by not making Medicaid a block grant program.
There is no better reflection of a nation’s priorities than how it allocates its resources. For the majority of American families, their first priority is the well-being of their children. If Congress wants its budget to be a true reflection of kitchen table budget making, this must be its first priority as well.
The Undersigned Members and Allies of the Children’s Leadership Council:
Children's Advocacy Institute
Children’s Defense Fund
Center on Law and Social Policy
Coalition on Human Needs
Child Welfare League of America
Every Child Matters
Food Research and Action Center
Forum for Youth Investment
Foster Family-based Treatment Association
The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health
National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies
National Assembly on School-Based Health Care
National Black Child Development Institute
National Child Abuse Coalition
National Women’s Law Center
Prevent Child Abuse America
Slowey McManus Communications
ZERO TO THREE
Children Now – California
Child and Family Policy Center – Iowa
MYSI, Corporation – Illinois
Maine Children's Alliance - Maine
Massachusetts Association for School-Based Health Care – Massachusetts
School Community Health Alliance of Michigan – Michigan
Public Policy Center of Mississippi – Mississippi
Montana Women Vote – Montana
Advocates for Children of New Jersey – New Jersey
New Mexico Voices for Children – New Mexico
Westchester Children's Association – New York
Action for Children North Carolina – North Carolina
Oklahoma Therapeutic Foster Care Association – Oklahoma
The Black Children's Institute of Tennessee – Tennessee
Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth – Tennessee
Healy-Murphy Center – Texas
Texans Care for Children – Texas
Voices for Children of San Antonio – Texas
Voices for Virginia's Children – Virginia
Wisconsin Council on Children and Families – Wisconsin
The Children’s Leadership Council is a coalition of child advocates representing over 50 leading national policy and advocacy organizations who are working everyday to improve the health, education and well-being of children and youth in order to prepare them for school, work, and life. The CLC organizations have members in every state in the nation. For the first time, there is a strong, unified group of organizations speaking with one voice to achieve a singular mission – building the public awareness and creating the political will necessary to make greater federal investments in America’s children and youth a reality. The Forum for Youth Investment and SparkAction are proud members of the CLC.