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President Obama released his budget on Monday, which includes proposals for making the 2009 earned income tax credit (EITC) and child tax credit (CTC) improvements permanent, and reforming U.S. food aid to make it more flexible and reach millions more people. These are crucial government mechanisms for fighting hunger at home and abroad. The budget also aims to end sequestration, which is scheduled to return in 2016.
“President Obama’s budget is concurrent with what our research has found: Investing in people is key to a sustained economic recovery,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “We are glad that the president’s budget includes strong support for safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and sets aside $67 million to support summer electronic benefit transfer (EBT) pilots to help reduce hunger among our nation’s kids during summer months. Investing in programs that give children access to nutritious food, families an opportunity to work and put food on the table, and people around the world the chance to provide for their families in their home countries is not just a moral imperative, but it makes practical economic sense.”
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is up for reauthorization this year and serves low-income children through school lunch and breakfast programs, summer feeding programs, after-school and child care feeding programs, and The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Out of every seven low-income children who receive a school lunch, only four also get breakfast, and only one also gets summer meals.
The presidential budget proposes making permanent the 2009 EITC and CTC improvements, which augment wages for low-income working families and keep 16 million people, including 8 million children, from being pushed into or falling deeper into poverty. Also included is a proposal to expand the EITC for workers without children and non-custodial parents, reducing poverty for 13.2 million low-income workers.
“The budget debate has a central moral dimension. As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the budget is based on how the most poor and vulnerable people fare,” said Beckmann. “The president’s budget is a step in the right direction as it provides a framework for working-class families, who tend to have little voice in politics, an opportunity to improve their economic situations.
Reforming how U.S. food aid and addressing the root causes of immigration in Central America are major components in the international area of the president’s budget. To promote an economically integrated Central America that provides greater economic opportunities to its people and ensures the safety of its citizens, the president has set aside $1 billion.
The House and Senate will soon begin working on their budgets. Bread for the World urges members of Congress to reach a bipartisan budget deal that stabilizes the economic gains of the past few years, responsibly ends sequestration, and protects programs that effectively address hunger and help people move out of poverty.
By Marlysa D. Gamblin and Kathleen King
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