Oppose the Ryan Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012
Advocacy Letter - 05/09/12
Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. House of Representatives
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 210 national organizations, we strongly urge you to reject the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012 (the Ryan bill). The cuts in the Ryan bill would have a devastating impact on the communities we represent, including young children, students, older people, the jobless, the hungry, and the uninsured. The House Budget Committee has approved a set of spending cuts that range from unwise to downright unconscionable, without seeking any sacrifice from defense contractors, wealthy Americans, or other powerful interests. Therefore, we will include your position on this bill in our voting record for the 112th Congress.
The Leadership Conference agrees that it is vital to address our nation’s long-term debt. We also agree that the health of our national defense cannot be sacrificed in the process. Yet there is something fundamentally inhumane about a plan that would impose new “savings” almost entirely on the backs of the people who can least afford them.
While the entire general approach of the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act is morally deficient, we are most troubled by the following provisions:
- Cuts to Food Assistance: The Ryan bill would cut $36 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food stamps to low- income families, people with disabilities, and older Americans. Through several changes, including new restrictions on eligibility, it would completely eliminate SNAP assistance for two million Americans – including an estimated 300,000 children – and reduce the amount of benefits for anyone else who relies on them. In recommending these cuts, the Committee on Agriculture did not look for savings in any other agricultural support program.
- Cuts to Medicaid and other Health Care: Through a series of cuts, the Ryan bill would reduce Medicaid spending by $22.7 billion over the next decade, eliminating vital health services for those who can least afford it, including at least 300,000 children. It would also cut $26.3 billion from provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are already benefiting millions of Americans. These cuts include the outright elimination of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which helps prevent health care costs from escalating in the first place. In all, the Committee on Energy and Commerce recommended the elimination of $115 billion from health expenditures, more than it was asked to cut, rather than look for savings anywhere else.
- Weakening of Wall Street Oversight: Less than four years after our nation barely averted a complete economic collapse brought on by widespread abuses in the financial services industry, the Ryan bill undercuts some of the most important reforms established in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The bill would eliminate the ability of federal regulators to shut down a bank in an orderly fashion when its failure would jeopardize the overall financial system. It would alter the funding mechanisms for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a way that aims to reduce its independence and ultimately render it toothless. These and other changes proposed by the Committee on Financial Services represent not just a failure to learn from history, but a stubborn insistence on making the same mistakes again.
- Restrictions on the Child Tax Credit: The Ryan bill would disqualify two million working families who are legally compelled to pay federal and payroll taxes from eligibility for the refundable Child Tax Credit (ACTC). Such a drastic change in tax policy would have a devastating impact on children―the very population the tax credit is intended to benefit. This will harm more than 5 million children, most of whom are U.S. citizens but all of whom are deserving of our support. This Act will hit Latinos hardest, as more than 80 percent of those impacted are Latino families. Over 60 percent of families using the refundable CTC earn less than $25,000 per year.
- Elimination of the Social Services Block Grant: The Ryan bill would eliminate this $16.7 billion program, which currently enables states and localities to provide assistance to 23 million children, seniors, and disabled Americans. Among other things, these block grants enable home- based services, such as Meals on Wheels, for 1.7 million seniors. They help prevent child abuse and neglect, providing child protective services for 1.8 million at-risk children. They support low- income parents returning to work by providing child care and related assistance for 4.4 million children. They also provide services for nearly 1 million people with disabilities, including respite care and transportation.
Chairman Ryan has claimed that opponents of this measure have not proposed any alternatives to avoid the defense cuts that are looming as a result of the budget sequester that Congress agreed to last year. That is patently untrue. President Obama and many others have called for modest revenue increases, which have been rejected out of hand – not on the merits, but because they would violate a “pledge” that many Members made to a special interest group before the 2010 election.
Congress must face the fact that sensible, targeted revenue increases are absolutely necessary and a fiscally responsible component of ensuring our long-term economic health. In the meantime, we urge you to reject the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012. Indeed, it is an embarrassment that such a bill is coming to the floor.
If you have any questions, please contact either of us, or Senior Counsel Rob Randhava, at (202) 466-3311.
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