Falling off the Fiscal Cliff – Race, Opportunity and Sequestration

Falling off the Fiscal Cliff – Race, Opportunity and Sequestration View Download

As a country, we long ago decided to feed the hungry, help the homeless, ensure our elderly have heat in winter and make sure every child gets a fair chance, by supporting public schools and programs for disabled and poor children. We have helped millions of children and families, White, Black, Latino, Asian and Native American, over the years through programs that work. We now face a crossroads come January 2013. Will we continue to invest in the education, housing and nutrition of Americans  hit hard by the recession or begin to cut vital investments in Americans?

This is no time to stop investing in our future. Recent studies show that increases in education and business formation among Black and Latino families, for example, will increase their buying power to a total of $2.7 trillion by 2015 and build the backbone of the middle-class. We must create opportunities for all who need them, including Black and Latino Americans.

Thanks to the fiscal fiasco known as “sequestration” created by Congress’ debt-reduction agreement reached last year, if Congress does not act, Americans will be looking at $54.7 billion in cuts to programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, Homeless Assistance Grants, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and public education funding for  children with learning disabilities and other special needs and those living in poverty covered by Special Education (IDEA) grants and Title I grants. These cuts will hurt millions of Americans, but have a particularly devastating impact on people of color.

This report examines the ten marquee programs that invest in opportunities for Americans struggling to make it to the middle class. In seven of the ten programs the absolute number of Black and Latino Americans facing cuts is higher than that for White Americans. It finds:

  • Nearly half a million Black and Latino women, infants and children would lose WIC services.
  • About 115,000 Black and Latino individuals would lose access to housing vouchers and 90,000 may lose housing assistance, with some possible overlap.
  • Nearly 850,000 Black and Latino Americans would lose help heating and cooling their homes.
  • Over 60,000 Black and Latino children would lose Head Start early learning education opportunities.
  • Over 1 million Black and Latino students would lose Title I funding to their schools.
  • Over 330,000 Black and Latino students would lose access to Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants that help them afford college.
  • Over 260,000 Black and Latino students would lose access to career and technical education programs.
  • Nearly 45,000 homeless children and over 220,000 children with special needs who are Black and Latino would lose population-specific funding to their schools.

While each of these families may participate in more than one of these programs, we can estimate that about two million infants, youth and adults of color will lose access to crucial programs. This is a moral mistake. It is also an economic mistake. To avert this congressionally-created family crisis, we must choose the smart path forward by repealing the draconian cuts and creating a fair tax policy and cuts to spending that will not harm our future prosperity.

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