Deficit Reduction Panel Gets Underway
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction created by the Budget Control Act (BCA) holds its first hearing tomorrow as it begins its work to erase some of the government’s red ink. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) co-chair the Committee, which must make recommendations by November 23 for at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years. Congress and the President must agree with those recommendations by December 23 or automatic cuts (called a sequester) will be triggered. According to the CBO, a sequester would lower the nondefense discretionary funding cap by another 7.8% in 2013. While programs that benefit low-income children, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, are exempt from the automatic cuts, other programs that support positive early childhood development are not. Head Start/Early Head Start, child care, and Part C Early Intervention, for example, would be vulnerable to automatic cuts. And, as noted in the previous blog post, all programs important to young children and their families are on the table for the Committee as they tackle this immense task.
Infant-toddler advocates need to let their policymakers know that these important programs form not just a social “safety net”, but the social scaffolding for supporting healthy and positive development in vulnerable young children. ZERO TO THREE will be posting fact sheets on babies in states represented on the Joint Select Committee, so check the blog for this information.
Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
Meanwhile, consideration of appropriations for the 2012 fiscal year that begins October 1 is proceeding. To date, no appropriations bills have been enacted. Neither the House nor the Senate has considered legislation to set funding levels for programs in the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, which include most of the federal programs important to babies. One issue is whether House Members will agree to use the higher level of overall spending set by BCA instead of the lower limits approved in the House Budget Resolution, which could significantly affect the outlook for early childhood programs. Clearly no decision will be reached before current funding runs out on September 30. The House will start debating a Continuing Resolution next week to keep the government running while efforts to pass appropriations continue.
The Bigger Picture for Babies:
Although we all get caught up in the most immediate funding debate, it is important to remember that our advocacy for infants and toddlers must be broader and more far-reaching. Here are two opportunities to help promote the “big picture” need to support children and families:
Grandparents Week and the 4th National GrandRally: This week, Generations United is celebrating the contributions of grandparents to our families and to our entire society. The high point will be when grandfamilies from around the country gather in Washington on Wednesday for a GrandRally to advocate for policies that benefit all generations. Find out more at www.gu.org and www.grandrally.org.
National Movement for America’s Children: This grass-roots movement is seeking to develop a comprehensive national strategy to ensure that all of our children are given an opportunity to develop - socially, emotionally and cognitively - in healthy, nurturing homes, schools, neighborhoods and communities. You can help shape the strategy at www.movementforchildren.org.