UPDATE 12/12/2013: PARTIAL VICTORY!
On Dec. 10, Rep. Ryan and Sen. Murray announced a budget deal called the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The agreement sets the top-line discretionary spending amounts for our current budget (FY 2014) and for next year’s budget. The deal must be approved by the House and Senate before it can be signed into law by President Obama.
We see this step as a partial victory. Thanks to your voices, the budget conference committee met their Dec. 13 deadline; however, there's still a long way to go before we can say the work is done.
While their agreement is an important step toward bipartisanship and away from manufactured crises, it leaves a lot of congressional business unfinished — including Unemployment Insurance, Food Stamps, and the debt ceiling. It also leaves a lot to be desired as it lacks most of the things that Americans say they want.
We'll continue fighting for a budget in line with Americans' widely held values, so stay tuned for more ways to take action.
Here are our top seven reasons why we must continue to hold lawmakers accountable to what Americans want:
1. Protect benefits for those who have contributed to the system their entire working lives.
Some lawmakers want to cut Social Security benefits, despite the fact that 82 percent of Americans want to preserve the program even if it means raising taxes. Our petition tells Congress to ensure the robust longevity of Social Security.
2. Get ballooning health care costs under control.
The cost of health care is one of the top concerns for most Americans, and Congress could implement cost-saving measures such as bundled payments -- yet they haven't. Our petition tells Congress to seek innovations that reform inefficient payment structures.
3. Make sure everyone pays their fair share.
The federal tax code has dozens of loopholes that enable corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay less. A full 65 percent of Americans want to eliminate these preferential tax breaks for top earners. Our petition tells Congress to reform the tax code so everyone pays their fair share.
4. Cut fat in the Pentagon budget without sacrificing security.
A bipartisan group of military experts found that $1 trillion of the Pentagon budget does nothing to protect our national security or men and women in uniform. Our petition tells Congress to listen to the 75 percent of Americans who want to cut wasteful defense spending.
5. Create job opportunities and revitalize our economy.
Our economy is still struggling to get back on its feet, yet some lawmakers want to cut programs that create jobs, such as infrastructure improvements, community development block grants, scientific research grants, and more. Our petition tells Congress to strengthen job opportunities, which is want 95 percent of Americans say is their top priority.
6. Protect our nation's most vulnerable, including children and struggling families.
Federal funding provides essential support for K-12 education as well as safety net programs like SNAP/Food Stamps, heat assistance, and public housing. Eighty-three percent and 75 percent of Americans oppose cuts to education and SNAP, respectively; however, lawmakers are considering cuts to those very programs. Our petition tells Congress to fund programs that help those who need it the most.
7. It's their job. Plain and simple.
Delivering a budget to keep our government up and running is part of Congress' most basic obligation to citizens. It's time our lawmakers did their jobs. Our petition reminds them that they work for us, and lets them know we're paying attention.
Why is this important?
The budget is a moral document, and – as such – it’s supposed to reflect our nation’s collective values and economic and social priorities. Federal spending and revenue decisions have a profound impact on our cities, local businesses, and individual well-being. They are at the center of our hopes and dreams for our families and our nation.
Sadly, our nation’s budget has fallen victim to Congressional dysfunction, partisan brinksmanship, and political posturing – leading to a 16-day government shutdown in October.
We can’t let our nation’s moral compass be hijacked like that again.
We must demand that lawmakers listen to what Americans want. We must demand that they act in the interest of their constituents – in the interest of our nation.
What do Americans want? It’s pretty clear if you look at the numbers:
- 95 percent say restoring jobs is a top priority.
- 88 percent say preserving the long-term stability of Medicare is essential.
- 88 percent say it is very important to preserve the long-term stability of Social Security.
- 80 percent want to see loopholes closed for big corporations, and 73 percent want to prevent corporations from avoiding taxes by shifting their profits overseas.
- 66 percent want to see higher taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers.
- 75 percent oppose cuts to SNAP.
- 83 percent oppose cuts to K-12 education.
- 58 percent would like to see major reductions in military spending.
- 56 percent want to see a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.
Put simply, the American people share a great many priorities. They have a plan for our nation’s budget.
Let’s demand a smart spending and revenue approach that reflects the majority priorities of the American people.