For Immediate Release
Hungry and Poor People Still at Risk after Debt Deal
WASHINGTON - Bread for the World is thankful President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have reached a debt ceiling deal that will prevent default, but cautions there is still work to be done to protect hungry and poor people from potential cuts to discretionary spending.
“Failure to raise the debt ceiling would have driven up interest rates and unemployment, causing tremendous harm to hungry and poor people—in this country and around the world,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “Any balanced deficit-reduction plan must also include increases in revenues, but programs that support the most vulnerable people should be protected.”
Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and unemployment insurance are spared in the initial round of cuts. But much is still at risk. Programs funded through the discretionary budget—such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Head Start, job-training programs, and international poverty-focused development assistance—are not protected. The severity of cuts to these programs is unclear and will be determined in the coming weeks.
The deal also creates a bipartisan congressional “super committee” tasked with reducing the deficit by an additional $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Each congressional leader from both houses and each party will appoint the 12 committee members, three from each party in each house. The committee must provide its recommendations to Congress, and Congress must vote by Dec. 23, 2011. If Congress fails to produce recommendations, automatic across-the-board cuts would be triggered annually for nine years.
“Raising the debt ceiling was the first step. We must now ensure that the bipartisan committee protects the most vulnerable people from cuts to vital programs,” said Beckmann. “As this process unfolds, we must continue our work to create a circle of protection around programs that support hungry and poor people.”
Bread for the World and other faith leaders are part of the Circle of Protection, a nonpartisan movement that insists budgets are moral documents and that poor and vulnerable people should be protected—not targeted—in efforts to reduce long-term deficits. Members of the group have met with President Obama and both Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. By changing policies, programs and conditions that allow hunger and poverty to persist, we provide help and opportunity far beyond the communities in which we live.