Protect Anti-Poverty Programs in Deficit Reduction
Congress has until March to address automatic spending cuts, the national budget, and the debt ceiling. Recognizing the importance of deficit reduction, we must also keep in mind that as Jews, we are inspired by the commandment to care for those in need in our communities (Deut. 15:7-11). Urge your Members of Congress to use a balanced approach to deficit reduction that will not destroy the safety net of programs serving low-income families.
When Congress was unable to agree on a long term deficit reduction program, it triggered a process known as “sequestration.” Sequestration is scheduled to begin in March and will include $1.2 trillion in automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts through 2021. Among the areas that will be impacted by cuts are Medicare, low income housing programs, education and more. The threat of these cuts, coupled with the impending debt ceiling negotiations, particularly threaten the well-being of struggling American families.
Our Jewish tradition teaches us that poverty is the greatest issue facing our society: “…If all the troubles of the world are assembled on one side and poverty is on the other, poverty would outweigh them all” (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 31:12). Although the sequester itself protects several key anti-poverty programs such as SNAP and Medicaid, sequestration is only one part of the impending fiscal cliff. As Congress considers all options in how to address our deficit and craft a new budget, funding for these and other safety net programs could be threatened. We cannot rebuild our economy by weakening programs like Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.
The budget is a moral document, reflecting the priorities of our community. Urge your Members of Congress to use a balanced approach to budgeting and deficit reduction that will not destroy the safety net of programs serving the low-income families.