Policy Resource

Federal Budget Battles: A Never-Ending Story

Apr 11, 2011

2011 Spending Finalized at Last: Late last Friday night, Congress narrowly averted a government shut-down, reaching agreement on total spending levels for 2011 literally at the eleventh hour.

The President and House and Senate leaders agreed on cuts reportedly totaling $38.5 billion. Congress then passed a one week stop-gap bill buying time to hammer out the details. While rumors abound, the nit and grit of the agreement won’t be available until tonight. Keep following the Baby Blog for analysis of the impact on infants and toddlers. Votes on the final package will occur later this week.

2012 Battle Begins in Earnest: While Washington heaved a collective sigh of relief that the shut-down show-down ended before time ran out, this fight was a mere skirmish in a larger battle over the shape of federal spending for decades to come. This week, the House will consider the Budget Resolution proposed by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and approved by the Committee last week. This proposal would drastically scale back funding for programs that assist low-income children and families, including creating block grants for Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Based on the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Resolution, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that over the next 40 years, federal spending for purposes other than Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and defense would shrink to almost nothing.

Many of the savings from these cuts would go not to reduce the deficit but to pay for extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and reducing the tax rates for corporations. Babies whose brains are forming new neural connections at the rate of 700 each second cannot wait for wealthy Americans and corporations already sitting on profits to decide to invest and let their economic prosperity trickle down to these less fortunate families.

Advocates for infants and toddlers must now turn their attention to this larger battle and once again prepare to take action. Representatives need to hear now that their constituents want a more responsible and far-sighted approach to balancing the budget than one that makes cuts on the backs of the most at-risk children. If we fail to develop our human capital and ensure that vulnerable infants and toddlers have the opportunity to fulfill their potential, we limit the prospects for us all.

What You Can Do:
  • Call your Representative: Join advocates around the country during a national call-in period on the House Budget Resolution. Read our alert and take action.
  • Join a Webinar on the Budget: If you find the federal budget process confusing, you’re not alone. Register for a Webinar presented by the Coalition on Human Needs and the Children’s Leadership Council Tuesday, April 12, noon Eastern time, and learn about the impacts of proposed cuts from some of Washington’s best budget gurus.
  • Watch ZERO TO THREE’s latest budget video: Released just in time to help advocates understand what’s at stake as the 2012 Budget Resolution starts to move, The Total Budget Amount Matters guides you through the process and shows how you can get involved.

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