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On Deficit Reduction: Protect Low-Income Americans and Don’t Increase Poverty


The Center joined with a wide variety of leading organizations today on a letter that urges President Obama and congressional leaders, as part of their budget negotiations, “to protect programs for low-income families and individuals and make sure that deficit reduction is achieved in a way that does not increase poverty.”

Any agreement on deficit reduction should neither cut low-income assistance programs directly nor subject these programs to cuts under automatic enforcement mechanisms.  Cuts to programs that help low-income people meet their basic needs or provide them with opportunity to obtain decent education and employment would inevitably increase poverty and hardship.

The major bipartisan deficit reduction packages of recent decades have adhered to the principle we espouse here.  In fact, all deficit reduction packages enacted in the 1990s reduced poverty and helped the disadvantaged even as they shrank deficits.  In addition, every automatic budget cut mechanism of the past quarter-century has exempted core low-income assistance programs from any automatic across-the-board cuts triggered when budget targets or fiscal restraint rules were missed or violated.  The 1985 and 1987 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings laws, the 1990 Budget Enforcement Act, the 1993 deficit reduction package, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, and the 2010 pay-as-you-go law all exempted core low-income programs from automatic cuts.

For the full letter and list of signatories, click here.