NAACP Urges Congress and the White House to Prevent the Nation From Falling Over the “Fiscal Cliff”
URGE CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE TO PREVENT THE NATION FROM FALLING OVER THE “FISCAL CLIFF” AND TO HALT DEVASTATING BUDGET CUTS
CALL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A FAIR AND BALANCED FEDERAL BUDGET
Unless action is taken to avert it before then, on January 2, 2013, the United States will be faced with what has become known as the “fiscal cliff.” Under this scenario, automatic, across-the-board spending cuts of about $109 billion per year are scheduled to take place: this means that almost every federal discretionary program will be facing a reduction in its budget of approximately 8.6%. Also, a number of tax cuts which were first enacted under President George W. Bush, and which affect all Americans from the wealthiest among us to those with little or no income, are set to expire as of December 31, 2012. Finally, the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which currently helps more than 5 million long-term unemployed Americans, will end as of December 31, 2012, unless it is reauthorized.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has determined that if Congress and the President do not act, and America is allowed to fall off the “fiscal cliff,” our nation will be slammed back into a recession with national unemployment levels reaching over 9% by the end of the year (unemployment rates for African Americans tend to be roughly double that of the national average at any given time). The funding cuts will affect both defense and non-defense programs; it is estimated that as many as 2 million Americans, including police officers, teachers, air traffic controllers, and civilian defense workers may lose their jobs as a result. Other groups estimate that if none of the tax breaks are reauthorized, the average, middle class family making between $40,000 and $64,000 annually will be facing a $2,000 increase in their annual tax bill. And if the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is allowed to expire, more than 2 million Americans will lose their jobless benefits as of January 1, 2013, and another 1 million will lose them as of April, 2013. It is fair to say that between the cuts in services, the tax increases, and the loss of unemployment benefits no person, family, community, or business will not feel the effects if we fall off the “fiscal cliff.”
It is clear that Congress and the Administration must work together throughout this period to develop a federal budget and to avoid the potential devastation of the “fiscal cliff.” This will most likely involve all aspects of the federal budget, including entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and Veterans’ benefits. Due to the disproportionate impact the fiscal cliff would have on the most vulnerable among us, the NAACP has consistently called on Congress and the Administration to put aside their partisan bickering and develop a balanced budget which makes the tax code more fair and does not do additional harm to the programs which serve us all, including the most vulnerable. We further urge Congress to use this opportunity to focus on job creation and oppose any actions that would: cost jobs; cut social security program benefits including “chaining” the Consumer Price Index (CPI); reduce Medicare or Medicaid benefits; weaken our nation’s safety net; extend of the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans.