NASCSP Position Statement on Bill to Raise the Debt and Reduce the Deficit
The National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) urges Members of the House and Senate to oppose the debt ceiling plan that will be presented to Congress today. Alternatively, we urge the House and Senate to decouple the debt ceiling and budget negotiations. Paying our current bills is the responsible thing and necessary to save all Americans from economic distress. The next responsible thing would be for Congress to find a more equitable means of reducing federal spending that will not disproportionately hurt low income Americans.
Based upon what we know about the agreement negotiated over the weekend, we believe the caps on domestic discretionary spending beginning in FY 2012 and lasting until FY 2021 will produce unacceptable, deep cuts in social safety net programs that will unfairly impact our nation’s most vulnerable communities. The debt ceiling plan will eviscerate domestic programs that affect vital human needs services for low income Americans, without asking for similar sacrifices from wealthy Americans and corporations. We are particularly concerned that programs like the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which are essential to helping vulnerable Americans grab hold of the ladder leading to the middle class, will be decimated by the caps on appropriations for the next ten years.
At a time when fifty million Americans are below the poverty level of $18,000 in annual income for a family of four, this is not the time to adopt a budget agreement which will severely impact vulnerable communities such as the rural poor, communities of color, and seniors. According to The Economist magazine, the gap between rich and poor in America today is bigger than in any other advanced society. Wealthy Americans and corporations must share in the sacrifices that are necessary to reduce the national debt, and this agreement fails to do that.
The debt ceiling plan will mandate spending cuts that will have a disproportionately severe impact on low income Americans over the next decade, and for that reason we urge the Congress to reject the plan when it comes before the House and Senate for a vote later today.