People of Faith Succeed in Curtailing Cuts to Programs for Vulnerable People
Listen: HIV/AIDS in Uganda and St. Francis Health Care Services
Washington, DC, December 23, 2011
With Congress’ last-minute extension of unemployment benefits, Bread for the World is celebrating surprising success in avoiding cuts to programs focused on hungry and poor people over the course of 2011.
“We will need a continuing surge of advocacy for poor people in 2012,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “But we can be encouraged by what Bread for the World and the groups who worked with us helped to achieve in 2011.”
In April, the House of Representatives’ budget proposed deep cuts in government spending over 10 years, with two-thirds of those cuts directed to programs focused on poor people. In August, Congress and the president agreed on the Budget Control Act, which mandates across-the-board spending cuts of $2 trillion over 10 years—but, remarkably, exempts some of the main programs focused on poor people in the United States from these automatic cuts.
“This is a huge victory,” said Beckmann. “We will need to work hard in 2012 to maintain what we have won and to defend programs such as WIC and international development assistance that will be hit by the across-the-board cuts.”
The House of Representatives also voted for deep, immediate cuts in international aid. Their proposed cut in food aid would have eliminated food aid rations for 14 million of the world’s most desperate people. But Bread for the World mobilized its network and helped pull together an unprecedented coalition of organizations that care about the non-military aspects of U.S. international relations. In the appropriations bills that finally passed Congress, there were no significant cuts to the international aid programs that help to reduce poverty.
Congress finished the year with yet another standoff, this time threatening to raise payroll taxes for all working Americans and throw nearly 2 million people off unemployment insurance in January. Millions of people who receive unemployment insurance are on the edge of poverty. In the end, the House of Representatives agreed to a two-month extension of the current law.
Beckmann sums up the year: “We still face intense and uncompromising political pressures to cut spending, especially spending that helps poor people. But we thank God that Congress and the President made decisions this year that will reduce federal deficits, yet avoided deep cuts in programs that help families who are struggling to feed their children. This is a remarkable achievement, especially for the faith groups that rallied to form a circle of protection around hungry and poor people. It is also reason to give thanks to God.”
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.
Kristen Y. Archer, Acting Manager for Media Relations, 202-688-1118