UPDATE – 5/11/2012 6:15 PM::: The House of Representatives today passed the Reconciliation Replacement bill on a 218-199 vote. Not a single Democrat supported the bill, which tries to implement significant cuts safety net programs. The good news is that the Senate Majority Leader has already vowed not to even consider the bill, which President Obama in any event has said he would veto. While House Republicans may try to draw Democrats into negotiations over exempting defense spending from budget, the passage of the House Reconciliation Replacement bill today makes it more likely that automatic sequestration will occur in January including cuts in both defense and social programs budgets.
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The National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) urges Members of the House to reject the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012 (the Ryan Act), which, if enacted, will threaten the economic security of the middle class and struggling Americans. The cuts in domestic discretionary spending contained in the bill will obliterate essential services that help our families – programs that create jobs, and protect the health and safety of hard working Americans.
This bill would replace the Budget Control Act of 2011, which itself mandated deep cuts in programs for our most vulnerable citizens, but still provided for a sequester of both defense and critical non-defense programs. The Ryan Act would cancel the entire defense sequester, limit discretionary spending to an unacceptably low level that would threaten struggling families, children, and seniors and bring about an unfair and unbalanced approach that leaves Medicare, food stamps, and other vital programs subject to severe cuts or worse (the bill entirely cuts the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)).
We want a safe and secure nation. The safety of our citizens, including our most vulnerable, is of the utmost importance. However, in these difficult economic times, nobody should be exempt from oversight and fiscal responsibility. Military spending must be scrutinized just like every other budget item. Programs that provide jobs, energy efficiency, and community revitalization like the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) contribute to our safety and security as well.
At a time when fifty million Americans are below the poverty level ($22,000 in annual income for a family of four), we must invest in the health and well-being of struggling Americans. Securing our nation’s future involves more than military spending. It also requires a commitment to hard-working Americans who need jobs, good schools, and a safe environment in which to grow and thrive.