- Economic Justice
Federal Budget Priorities: Working for a Moral Budget
Constituent advocacy can help stop disastrous budget decisions.
The House and Senate have spent months debating legislation that would leave upwards of 20 million people without health insurance in order to fund tax cuts for the richest people in the country.
- Congress is considering cutting back assistance to the most vulnerable in favor of increased military spending and tax cuts.
Meanwhile, President Trump’s 2018 budget plan would make draconian cuts to scores of programs that foster hope and create opportunity in communities across the country and around the world.
Housing vouchers for 250,000 low-income households would disappear. More than 8 million families would lose food assistance. More than 570,000 workers would lose job training, and more than 14 million people would lose Medicaid—on top of cuts proposed in congressional health care legislation. Instead, the budget would spend $5 trillion on tax breaks, nearly 80 percent of which would benefit the wealthiest fifth of U.S. households.
But regressive tax cuts aren't the only misplaced investments. This budget proposal continues to perpetuate hyper-militarized policies, redirecting billions into militarizing U.S. borders and expanding deportation enforcement. It continues the unadulterated buildup of Pentagon spending at the expense of diplomacy and peacebuilding initiatives.
This administration wants to take critical services, needed assistance, and pathways of opportunity away from the most vulnerable people in our country and redirect those public resources towards those individuals who already have wealth, privilege, and power. Now, Congress needs to decide whether to agree to the president’s request.
The budget debate is not just about dollars and cents – it’s about our country’s priorities and the role of government in advancing them. Some members of Congress think the president’s budget goes in the right direction, or even that it doesn’t go far enough. Many representatives have voted in the past for a budget that would end the SNAP (food stamp) program’s guarantee of federal food assistance. In the House, appropriators didn’t think the president was aggressive enough with his military spending proposals—so they added an extra \$37 billion to his proposed increase of \$54 billion.
But many members are realizing these proposals‘ potential impact, and they are open to be influenced to stop these drastic measures from taking effect.
The budget debate is not just about dollars and cents – it’s about our country’s priorities and the role of government in advancing them.
We’ve seen already that activated constituents have enormous power to influence congressional decisions. In March, House leaders scrapped a health care vote because of constituent pressure. Only after constituent anxiety seemed to abate did House leadership rush through the bill. We need to keep up our faithful engagement and persistent advocacy as Congress sets our country’s path for not only the next year but for generations to come. If the changes in the president’s budget proposal take effect, they will alter our country’s direction in ways that will be difficult, if not impossible, to recover from.
We expect the budget debate to draw out over the course of this year, presenting ongoing opportunities for your advocacy to make a difference. The next several months are particularly critical.
As members of Congress head into the August recess, they are wrestling with two big questions: how much to allocate for the Pentagon and non-defense programs, and, within those categories, how much money each program should get. Those decisions will have huge implications for people across the country and the future health of our society.
Your engagement with your members of Congress right now can help stop the worst of the president’s budget proposals. Your voice is needed to keep up the drumbeat of support for a moral budget that meets the needs of everyone in our country, not just the wealthiest and most powerful.