Tell Congress Avoid a Fiscal Showdown
With the election behind us, Congress will soon be debating
the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Congress has already approved a mix of spending cuts and tax increases that, if unchanged, will
sharply reduce the 2013 deficit and, according to experts, likely cause a
Under current plans, taxes will increase as many tax breaks
come to an end. Spending will decline sharply due to cuts approved in 2011 and additional
across-the-board cuts (called the “sequester”) that will begin next year. The
deficit will be reduced by over half.
But given the underlying weakness of the economy, numerous
experts predict that such a large reduction in the deficit will trigger a
recession next year. So Congress is planning to modify the budget. Policymakers
will continue some tax breaks while ending others or, in other words, some
people will see their taxes rise and others will not. Congress will also
continue (or increase) some types of spending while cutting other types.
A faithful federal budget would protect the most vulnerable
through strong safety-net programs, maintain core government services to promote
the common good, and provide adequate resources for shared priorities through a
just tax system. It would also fairly balance funding for the military against other
vital needs at home. More about a
The federal budget must reflect our national priorities. We
need to carefully consider whose taxes should rise and whose should not, and what
spending should be continued and what should be cut.
Taxes. Taxes are scheduled to rise next year because a number
of temporary tax breaks are ending. But to avoid a recession, some of the tax
breaks should be continued. The people who most need to continue to receive a tax
break are lower- and middle-income households. But Congress must end tax breaks
for higher income household, usually defined as the 2% with annual incomes over
Spending. In recent years, military spending has risen rapidly,
up by nearly 50% over the past decade not
including special funds for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. At the same time,
spending on the safety net and core government functions – like environmental
protections, education, the federal courts, energy programs, and public health –
has risen more slowly or has even been cut. Next year’s planned military cuts
including the “sequester” would reduce military expenditures to the level of 2007,
a year when the U.S. was actively fighting two wars which are now winding down. Experts say the Pentagon can absorb these cuts without negatively impacting national
security. Congress must go forward with cuts in military spending while continuing to fully
fund the safety net and core government functions.
The federal budget is a moral document. Our nation’s taxes
and spending priorities must reflect our values. This wealthy nation can avoid a
fiscal showdown without punishing poor families, raising unemployment, or
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