Support Reid/Murray Sequester Replacement Oppose “Flexibility” Amendment
Advocacy Letter - 02/27/13
Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. Senate
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our strong support for the “American Family Economic Protection Act,” the sequester replacement legislation offered by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) (the “Reid/Murray bill”). We urge you to vote for this balanced and sensible measure to avert the potentially drastic effects of the looming budget sequester, and to oppose any amendment that would give the President more “flexibility” to determine how cuts are to be made.
The Leadership Conference is a coalition of more than 210 national organizations representing persons of color, women, children, low- to moderate-income workers, labor unions, people with disabilities, consumers, older people, people of faith, English language learners, LGBT people, educators, environmentalists, and many other communities. All of these communities have a tremendous stake in the outcome of the ongoing budget process. They have already borne much of the brunt of our nation’s recent deficit reduction efforts, and they would be harmed even more if the budget sequester were to take effect as scheduled.
The Reid/Murray bill presents a responsible and fair alternative to the sequester, by proposing $110 billion in savings evenly split between revenue increases and spending cuts. The spending cuts would come from $27.5 billion in modest reductions in defense spending through 2021, and $27.5 billion from ending direct agriculture payments.
The Leadership Conference believes that increased revenues are an absolutely vital component of any deficit reduction efforts. The recent tax increase on those making more than $450,000 was a positive step, but it does not generate anywhere near enough revenue to allow for investment in the middle class and to deal with existing budget shortfalls. The Reid/Murray bill would institute the “Buffett Rule,” to ensure that millionaires are not able to pay taxes at a lower rate than middle-class families, and it closes several tax loopholes that favor big businesses.
At the same time, the Reid/Murray bill’s carefully-targeted spending cuts would prevent the reckless across-the-board cuts in education, child nutrition, environmental protection, housing, and many more vital services that are currently scheduled to take place under the sequester. Deficit reduction cannot come from forcing low- and middle-income Americans to bear the burden yet again by cutting programs they depend upon. Middle- and low-income Americans bear most of the burden when it comes to reducing the deficit – and so far, for every dollar of revenue increases, $2.50 in spending from services protecting our families and creating jobs has been cut, for a total of $1.5 trillion.
We also urge you to oppose any amendment that would simply give President Obama flexibility to determine the exact nature of the cuts required under the sequester. Because such an amendment takes the sequester cuts as a given, it would take additional revenues out of the picture, while absolving Congress of its responsibility for the consequences of any specific cuts that are made. At best, flexibility would only provide modest relief to some programs, while deepening the cuts in other areas.
For these reasons, we urge you to support the “American Family Economic Protection Act,” and oppose any “flexibility” amendments. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rob Randhava, Senior Counsel at The Leadership Conference, at 202-466-6058.
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