Invest more in kids, not less

Majorities in both chambers of Congress have now passed an identical Federal Budget blueprint. That recent step allowed individual appropriations bills to begin receiving committee consideration this week, and that spending process in turn is where detailed cuts assumed in the budget will actually be specified and voted on.

Much is at stake. As Congress starts passing individual appropriations measures in the coming weeks and months, Americans will begin to find out whether more than 60 percent of non-defense cuts will really come from programs for people with low or modest incomes.

We will learn whether automatic cuts called “sequestration” will remain in place for non-Pentagon domestic programs, while sequestration for defense funding is effectively waived through a budget gimmick that dramatically boosts spending on “Overseas Contingency Operations.”

And the fight commences over whether trillions of dollars in domestic spending cuts will be matched over the next decade by no contribution to deficit reduction from new revenue – not even by ending lucrative tax entitlements for the wealthiest few.

Each of these outcomes is enshrined in Congress’ now-passed blueprint, according to reliable non-partisan analysis. Legislative battles ahead will determine whether they transpire.

Congress has lately been unable to complete its appropriations process for each approaching year before the expiring fiscal year has ended. That could happen again. The president has said forcefully that he will not allow the harmfully unbalanced scenarios described above to occur. A Fall budget deal may be necessary to keep the government open.

In this highly uncertain landscape, Every Child Matters urges friends and supporters to keep a close watch as Congress enumerates cuts to specific programs through appropriations. Will Congress vote to reduce basic food assistance for low-income families? Slash grants and loans to low-income students? Further reduce Head Start for 3- and 4-year olds? Will they continue funding after-school and child-care programs?

These programs are part of an economic survival safety net for millions of Americans. They also combat the class-based “opportunity gap” that is hardening against children from less affluent families in the wake of growing wealth and income disparities. They are among the “smart social programs” that evidence increasingly shows work well for individuals, families and communities.

Please click here to contact your member of Congress and tell them not to cut needed programs that help children. End the “sequestration” cuts. Invest more in kids, not less.