Don’t avoid fiscal cliff at expense of the poor

Budget negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff” are now under way. The president and Congress are working intensely toward a deal, so pressure to cut federal spending – particularly to programs for hungry and poor people – has never been higher.

For the next few weeks, every Washington interest group will be pounding the halls of Congress to weigh in on a multitrillion-dollar deal that will affect every federal program and every person in this country for decades to come.

Unfortunately, the media and politicians are not talking about the tremendous impact that the deal will have on hungry and poor people. That’s why I am speaking out on their behalf.

As a member of Bread for the World and Christ the King Lutheran Church, I believe that the moral measure of our federal budget is how it treats those who have the least and who don’t have a seat at the table.

Reaching a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff will require bipartisan compromise. But we cannot allow a hastily crafted bill to sacrifice our country’s commitment to feeding hungry people.

The policies in any deal must explicitly protect programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Earned Income Tax Credit; and the child tax credit.

Any deal must also include additional tax revenue balanced with responsible spending cuts, and it must prevent further cuts to the nondefense discretionary portion of the budget.

There are many working families in Colorado who rely on SNAP to keep food on the table and many others who are able to provide vital nutrition for their children through the Women, Infants and Children program.

I know Congress and the president can reach a deal that reduces the deficit and maintains a circle of protection around programs that support hungry and poor people. An imbalanced package will severely hamper our ability to address hunger and poverty for years to come.

Jigger Staby

Durango

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