Congress should raise revenue for kids

 

The dust stirred up by Election 2012 is starting to settle. We know who will be in the White House and representing Washington State in the 113th Congress.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Members of the 112th Congress still have some work to do.

Only 50 days remain before automatic, across-the-board federal budget cuts are scheduled to go into effect. If federal lawmakers allow this to happen, Washington families will be hurt:

  • 1,465 fewer children will have access to Head Start
  • 2,390 fewer kids will be able to enroll in affordable child care
  • 4,451 fewer children will be vaccinated, and
  • 16,175 participants will not have access to the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program – which provides health, food, and nutrition assistance for eligible mothers, infants and children under five years old.

These are just a few examples of how the cuts will hit Washington. Other important services like mental health care, housing, and transportation will be under the knife, too. Failing to provide adequate funding for early learning programs means failing thousands of children and hindering the economic growth we all so desperately need. Defunding programs that keep families healthy and kids ready to learn only costs America more in the long run.

We can do better.

Kids need Congress to address the federal deficit wisely. Congress has already approved $1 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years through spending caps set in the Budget Control Act. A bipartisan committee failed to negotiate the remaining $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction measures and now we are facing automatic cuts.

But, Instead of indiscriminate cuts that threaten the entire range of national priorities, we need an economically sound – and fair – budget that looks at both program spending and tax spending together. Cuts have been made, now revenue must be part of the solution.

Speaker John Boehner and Washington’s own Cathy McMorris Rodgers (5th District) are among House Republican leaders who have recognized the need for compromise and are no longer ruling out revenue.

This is great news, but we need to be clear about who should pay: those who can afford to. The tax cuts enacted more than 10 years ago need to expire for the top 2 percent of Americans, households earning over $250,000.

Revenue should not be raised by setting back the clock on enhancements made to the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. These smart improvements will help keep 246,432 families out of poverty in 2013 just in Washington alone. 

Advocates can insist that lawmakers take action to avoid arbitrary, unfair, automatic cuts to services that work. The consequences are to shortchange our children in favor of tax breaks for those who don’t need them.

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