May 2011, Week 4


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Wed, 25 May 2011 23:20:18 -0400
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Broad Civil Rights Coalition Lays Out Plan For 2012

Minoroty News May 25, 2011



A coalition of 117 national civil rights and civic
organizations has sent a letter to senators
establishing five principles for ensuring that the
Fiscal Year 2012 budget and debt limit deals address
the nation's debt in a fair, equitable, and responsible

In the letter, the coalition expresses concern about
the inadequacy and unfairness of current budget
proposals, stating that:

"[Congress].has the potential to either improve our
overall economic situation or make matters even worse.
Some of the proposals that we have seen to date are
overly simplistic and would, in reality, do little to
solve our budgetary problems. Others are simply

The letter lays out five principles that the coalition
urges the Senate to follow as budget negotiations

    - Congress must reject global federal spending caps
    or entitlement caps;

    - Any deficit reduction agreement, as well as any
    budget enforcement mechanism, must rely at least as
    much on revenue increases as on spending cuts;

    - The burden of deficit reduction must not be borne
    by low- and moderate-income individuals;

    - Congress must reject any effort to impose a
    Constitutional balanced budget amendment; and

    - Congress must protect investments that are vital
    to our nation's economic advancement.

"Our coalition understands that deficit reduction is an
important long-term goal for the nation," said Nancy
Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership
Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "But it cannot be
accomplished without putting revenues on the table.
Otherwise, the burden of reducing the debt will be laid
at the feet of low- and moderate-income Americans and
jeopardize a still-sluggish economic recovery."

The text of the letter with a full list of its
signatories is below.


Dear Senator:

The undersigned 117 organizations represent persons of
color, women, children, low- to moderate-income
workers, people with disabilities, consumers, elders,
people of faith, English language learners, LGBT
people, educators, and many other Americans. Together,
we have formed a coalition that is extremely concerned
with the ongoing state of negotiations over the Fiscal
Year 2012 budget. We write today to present you with a
list of principles that our coalition believes are
essential to address as the budget discussions move

As Congress focuses attention on reducing our federal
budget deficits, it has the potential to either improve
our overall economic situation or make matters even
worse. Some of the proposals that we have seen to date
are overly simplistic and would, in reality, do little
to solve our budgetary problems. Others are simply

As Congress continues its negotiations over the debt
ceiling and the FY 2012 budget, we urge you to adhere
to the following principles:

    Congress must reject global federal spending caps
    or entitlement caps. The Corker-McCaskill proposal
    limits spending to 20.6 percent of GDP, and would
    require massive cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social
    Security, and other programs that meet critical
    needs of low- and moderate-income people and
    provide vital economic security for millions of
    Americans. In fact, under the Corker-McCaskill
    caps, federal spending on essential programs would
    be cut roughly as much as the recently-passed House
    Republican budget by the end of this decade. At the
    same time, by focusing only on spending, global
    spending cap proposals would protect tax breaks for
    millionaires and tax subsidies for corporations.
    Any cap on mandatory spending should be opposed. In
    addition, Congress should reject multi-year
    appropriations caps that force harsh reductions in
    domestic/human needs services.

    Any deficit reduction agreement, as well as any
    budget enforcement mechanism, must rely at least as
    much on revenue increases as on spending cuts. If
    revenue increases are not included, deficit
    reductions will have to come from spending cuts
    alone, requiring cuts similar to those in the House
    Republican (Ryan) budget proposal, and restricting
    the federal government's ability to respond to
    economic downturns and limiting economic
    opportunity. That, in turn, would increase the
    likelihood that the fragile recovery will falter
    and could result in another recession. Related to
    this, any budget enforcement mechanism must include
    an automatic waiver during economic downturns or
    periods of unusually slow economic growth.

    The burden of deficit reduction must not be borne
    by low- and moderate-income individuals. As our
    nation's economy continues to struggle toward full
    recovery, unemployment remains unacceptably high,
    and there is a dire need to put people back to
    work. As a result of the housing crisis, countless
    numbers of Americans have lost their most valuable
    asset, forcing them to start their climb up the
    economic ladder all over again. A large aging
    population is gradually leaving the workforce and
    will become increasingly reliant on the promises
    made, decades ago, by programs such as Social
    Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Proposals such as
    the House-passed Republican budget or the Corker-
    McCaskill caps would harm those Americans precisely
    when they need help the most. Other vital services
    and programs, such as food stamps (the "SNAP
    Program"), education, Head Start, child care, jobs
    programs and low-income housing would also face
    drastic cuts under these proposals. Any budget plan
    must protect low- and moderate-income people and
    must not make programs that support them subject to
    automatic cuts if Congress fails to meet budget
    targets. Indiscriminate cuts to these programs will
    jeopardize the health, economic security, and
    education of millions of Americans.  We will fail
    to get the economy back on track, and an even
    heavier burden will fall on states that are already
    struggling to meet the needs of vulnerable

    Congress must reject any effort to impose a
    Constitutional balanced budget amendment. Some
    members have proposed an amendment to the
    Constitution that would require a balanced budget
    every year, regardless of the state of the economy.
    This is an extremely draconian and unwise proposal
    that would require the largest budget cuts or tax
    increases precisely when the economy is at its
    weakest, tipping a struggling economy into a
    recession and keeping it there for a protracted
    period of time. It would also require massive cuts
    to vital programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. It
    should be resoundingly opposed by lawmakers as a
    free standing proposal or as an element of raising
    the debt ceiling.

    Congress must protect investments that are vital to
    our nation's economic advancement. Some proposals
    would gut badly-needed investments in our public
    infrastructure, education and job training,
    scientific research and development, and other
    programs that develop and bolster the
    competitiveness of American businesses. These cuts
    are being proposed at exactly the wrong time:
    unemployment remains high, investment in the U.S.
    economy is currently at its lowest level in four
    decades, and productivity growth is lagging far
    behind previous recoveries from economic recession.
    If there is one point on which all economists can
    agree, it is that investment - in infrastructure,
    research and innovation, and worker productivity -
    is absolutely essential to getting people back to
    work in the short term and ensuring that our
    economy grows in the long run.

Thank you for your consideration.


9to5, National Association of Working Women


All Education Matters

Alliance for Retired Americans

American Association of People with Disabilities

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)

American Federation of State, County and Municipal
        Employees (AFSCME)

American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

American Network of Community Options and Resources

The Arc of the United States

Asian American Justice Center, a member of the Asian
    American Center for Advancing Justice

Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Campaign for America's Future

Campaign for Community Change

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)

CFED, Corporation for Enterprise Development

Children Now

Children's Defense Fund

Cities for Progress, Institute for Policy Studies


Coalition on Human Needs

Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism

Committee for Education Funding

Communications Workers of America (CWA)

Community Action Partnership


Direct Care Alliance

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

Easter Seals

Equal Justice Society

Families USA

Family Equality Council

Farmworker Justice

Food Research and Action Center

Friends of the Earth

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

Health & Disability Advocates

Health Care for America Now

International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and
    Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)

Japanese Americans Citizens League

Jewish Funds for Justice

Jewish Labor Committee

Latinos for a Secure Retirement

Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

League of Women Voters of the U.S.

Legal Momentum

Mental Health America

Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and
     Education Fund (MBELDEF)


NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good

National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc.

National AIDS Housing Coalition

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum

National Association for Children's Behavioral Health

National Association for Hispanic Elderly

National Association of Human Rights Workers (NAHRW)

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community

National Community Reinvestment Coalition

National Congress of American Indians

National Congress of Black Women, Inc.

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council on Independent Living

National Disability Rights Network

National Education Association

National Employment Law Project

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Focus on Gender Education

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund

National Health Law Program

National Immigration Law Center

National Korean American Service & Education Consortium

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Legal Aid & Defender Association

National Low Income Housing Coalition

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Priorities Project

National Senior Citizens Law Center

National Skills Coalition

National Urban League

National Women's Law Center

NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Not Dead Yet

The Office of Gender and Racial Justice, RE&WM, GAMC,
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

OMB Watch

PHI - Quality Care through Quality Jobs

Physicians for Social Responsibility


Poverty & Race Research Action Council


Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition (REHDC)

RESULTS: The Power to End Poverty

SER- Jobs for Progress National, Inc.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team

Social Security Works

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Southern Poverty Law Center

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

United for a Fair Economy

United States Student Association

United Steelworkers

U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA)


Voices for Progress

Wider Opportunities for Women


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