Draconian Cuts to Fiscal Year 2011 Budget are Sadly Settled; All Sides Now Look to Fiscal Year 2012

NAACP OPPOSES EFFORTS TO BALANCE THE BUDGET THROUGH CUTS IN SERVICES TO THE MOST VULNERABLE AMONG US

A nation’s budget is, in its aggregate, a statement about the values and priorities of its people. The final version of the bill funding the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, which began October 1, 2010 and runs through September 30, 2011, passed both the U.S. House and the Senate on April 14 and was signed into law on April 15. Although an earlier version which passed the House of Representatives in February 2011 contained a number of policy “riders”, many of which were extremely objectionable to the NAACP and in direct opposition to NAACP policy, the final version of the budget contained a total of four policy “riders”; of those, the NAACP had no position on two of them, one dictated that the District of Columbia could not use its own funds to provide abortions to low-income women (the NAACP opposes any policy imposed on the residents of D.C. as they don’t have a vote in Congress despite the fact they pay federal taxes and it is a blatant violation of home rule); and one perpetuated and expanded the NAACP-opposed DC school voucher program. In addition to the two problematic riders which were included in the final package, funding for many of the programs supported by the NAACP was reduced or in some cases eliminated. For a list of funding reductions opposed by the NAACP in the final budget package, please see pages 4 - 5.

Now the attention of the US Congress turns to the budget for fiscal year 20112, which begins on October 1, 2011. On April 15, 2011, the U.S. House passed its proposed “budget resolution” for fiscal year 2012. While non-binding, the budget resolution can be seen as a blueprint for how the House will act over the next 6 months. In short, the House of Representatives is proposing balancing the budget by cutting essential services and programs which currently serve low- and middle-income Americans while leaving tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans in place and in some cases expanding them. The proposed budget boasts massive spending cuts—totaling more than $4.3 trillion—that disproportionately impact critical initiatives serving our nation’s most vulnerable communities, including children, jobless workers, and low-income families.

The budget resolution is a broad blueprint: it is not as specific as the bill which passed for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. For example, under the plan as passed by the US House, over $630 billion dollars will be cut from transportation programs over the next ten years. While we do not know how this will specifically affect particular projects, it is a safe assumption that most existing projects will be pared down or eliminated and very few new projects will be started. The NAACP is vehemently opposed to a number of the broad proposals contained on the budget as it passed the US House of Representatives. For a list of some of the more problematic proposals, please see page 5.

The NAACP supports a holistic approach to reducing our national deficit: one that includes responsible decisions to raise new revenue by broadening a graduated tax base; strategically assessing cuts to our largest expenditures, including military war spending; and making our tax system more fair and closing tax loopholes and preferences which contributed to a significant loss of American jobs. We support budget proposals which reflect this approach, and will work to advocate for proposals which reflect the priorities and values of our Association.

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