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Taxes and Budgets—’Tis the Season

Budgets reveal our nation’s priorities

April 2012

As tax season gears up, Capitol Hill is also immersed in budget negotiations as key congressional leaders present their ideas for how the country should spend its tax dollars.

The 2012 budget season kicked off February 13, when President Obama released his budget proposal. His proposal makes permanent the current Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) benefit levels, which are set to expire at the end of 2012. The president’s budget also restores the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefit cuts, funds the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) at $7 billion, and includes $2.5 million for Hunger Free Communities. All of these programs help millions of Americans every year.

Bread was pleased to see that the president’s proposal supported these valuable programs for poor and hungry people. “At a time when so many families in America are facing unemployment or reduced work hours, these tax credits and nutrition programs are more important than ever,” said Bread President David Beckmann.

As budget proposals emerge from Sen. Kent Conrad, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and the presidential candidates, it’s important for people of faith to hold their government leaders accountable to the needs of hungry and poor people. Budgets are statements of our national priorities; instead of cutting funding for valuable social safety-net programs, lawmakers should form a circle of protection around them.

“Only about 14 percent of the federal budget goes to domestic social safety-net programs that don’t include social security or health care,” said Amelia Kegan, senior policy analyst at Bread. “So when people talk about needing to make tough choices over the budget, that should not include cutting programs for poor and hungry people. These programs are just a small portion of where our federal tax dollars go. Cutting them has a very small impact on our deficit.”

Bread’s 2012 Offering of Letters campaign focuses on protecting these programs, including domestic nutrition programs such as SNAP and WIC, and tax credits for low-income families.

As you prepare your taxes, take some time to reflect on where your tax dollars are going and write a letter to your members of Congress, encouraging them to protect poor and hungry people. Assure your leaders that programs such as SNAP are effective and provide benefits to people who truly need them—including working families, single moms, and people with disabilities. Tax credits such as the EITC and CTC boost a family’s earnings and lift millions of people out of poverty each year.

Learn more about the 2012 Offering and what’s at stake at www.bread.org/OL.

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