Speaking Out! Reckless cuts for kids pass House
In previous issues of Speaking Out! we warned that the House had been cooking up some truly reckless cuts to programs that serve kids. Last week the House passed those cuts, calling for hundreds of billions of dollars slashed in the programs that help children learn, stay safe and grow up healthy. The House is playing games, but the consequences for kids are very serious.
House plays political games with children’s needs
Fortunately, the legislation will die either in the Senate or by the president’s veto. Still, House policymakers have contemplated a very big sacrifice of children’s quality of life, and we find that disturbing. Food stamps, Medicaid and more are on the chopping block.
House leaders are probably counting on election year politics to prevent their budget from passing. Knowing they could cut without consequences, they plan to return to their home districts during campaign season to stump on how tough they were on spending. Even some House members have said as much, calling the bill “election-year grandstanding.”
Child advocates must oppose legislation that would see kids suffer, and Voices could not be more strongly against the type that passed on a 218-199 vote Thursday. In fact, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi noted the opposition of Voices and its allies in her remarks on the bill, saying, “Because this legislation will have devastating impact, it’s opposed by numerous organizations: from Easter Seals, the National Women’s Law Center, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Voices for America’s Children.”
To her credit, Pelosi, in the same speech, made children paramount in her budget thinking: “When people ask me what are the three most important issues facing the Congress, I always say the same thing: ‘our children, our children, our children,’ ” she said.
An attack on the institutions American children depend on
We’ve detailed the severe cuts repeatedly in this newsletter, but now that the bill has passed it’s important to really think about what the House has endorsed. It has called for an unprecedented dismantling of the safety net, largely to protect defense spending and tax cuts for millionaires.
The House passed $36 billion in cuts to food stamps, meaning 2 million Americans would lose food assistance. We’re particularly concerned about these cuts because children are half of all food stamp recipients. That means around 22 million children would see reduced or eliminated benefits. And since getting food stamps also enrolls kids in things like free and reduced-price lunch, some 280,000 children stand to lose that, too.
Another $1.7 billion in support for daycare, adoption, protective services and other programs would be eliminated through the repeal of the Social Services Block Grant. It would also effectively exclude immigrants from collecting the Child Tax Credit, which helps working families with the costs of raising children. Subsidies from the health reform law that would help low-income families afford coverage would also lose out.
These cuts are beyond cruel; some Catholic bishops have gone so far as to say they are immoral. Tell your friends to subscribe to this newsletter for information on how policy affects kids and what you can do about it.