As details continued to emerge throughout the day about a possible short-term Federal budget deal for 2014 and 2015, it’s become increasingly clear that the deal represents a missed opportunity for a long-term resolution to our nations’ budget challenges and a bad deal for America’s workers. Although completing any deal is a step in the right direction after two years of partisan gridlock and the recent government shutdown, this deal just doesn’t go far enough—it fails to replace a majority of the sequestration spending cuts and does not include any new tax revenue. As a result, this mini deal represents a big missed opportunity.
This was the message sent by a crowd of workers, families, and advocates that gathered in Greensboro this morning for an event calling on their federal elected representatives to finish the job and replace sequestration in its entirety with new revenues raised by closing corporate tax loopholes. Across-the-board sequestration spending cuts are harming North Carolina, advocates said, and without new revenue, North Carolinians will continue to be hit hard by spending cuts to core initiatives like education, job training, and healthcare.
“This emerging deal represents a missed opportunity. Congress has one last opportunity to prevent damaging cuts to investments that help struggling families and a struggling economy,” said Allan Freyer, Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “We are calling on North Carolina’s federal lawmakers to do the right thing and support closing corporate tax loopholes so that we can make the investments needed to support North Carolina families and end gridlock on the federal budget.”
North Carolina’s working families are struggling financially to provide for their families and achieve economic security, Freyer said. The state has already weathered cuts and the gutting of social safety net programs like providing meals for seniors, and investments that help support middle- and low-income working families like early childhood education. The best source of new revenues comes from tax expenditures, such as the special loopholes, credits, and deductions available to certain corporations and individuals. These tax loopholes represent the largest portion of the federal budget, a portion almost entirely spared from deficit reduction.
Middle class North Carolinians end up being the ones who suffer even as corporations are reaping the benefits of these costly loopholes, said Barbara Council of Working America.
“The trickle-down effect does not work, and we have been trying it for decades,” Council said. “A prosperous middle class is what helps create jobs through purchasing goods and services. We are the job creators.”
Speakers also expressed concerns about the federal budget’s potential impact on the senior community, as federal employee pensions are at risk of being cut in the current budget deal. Instead of hurting seniors, said Bill Dworkin of NC Alliance for Retired Americans, a fair deal should focus on closing loopholes that would prevent another round of cuts.
“What kind of world do we want for our grandchildren?” Dworkin said. “Let’s leave a legacy of making the kind of public investments in people that improve opportunity, education and quality of life. We cannot cut our way to prosperity. For our children and grandchildren’s sake we need to invest in our future, not in off-shoring jobs.”
The increasing number of jobs being shipped offshore is particularly devastating at a time when there are nearly three unemployed workers for every job available.
“It has never been more important for our budget to invest in workers and job training for the future,” said John Crawford from United Auto Workers. “It’s time to refocus on creating a budget that supports working families and invests in the building blocks for a strong economy.”