Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Stand Up Wednesday

Call to Action
Groups Sign On to Deficit Reduction Issue

With the election cycle grinding into full gear, the issue of deficit reduction juxtaposed to a looming November deadline for spending cuts plus an embattled congress, has set organizations in motion across the country. Groups such as Arkansas HIV AIDS Community Advocates, The Living Affected Corporation, Inc. and the National Association of Black and White Men Together, Inc. have joined The Treatment Access Expansion Project's sign on effort to Senator Patty Murray, Representative Hensarling and Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction in reference to possible cuts to health care programs especially those involving HIV/AIDS.
 But this move also could include cuts to food stamps assistance, fuel assistance programs, and even the commodity "government cheese" program could get played into the mix of standing in the gap of the budget deficit. It is paramount that stakeholders, consumers and the citizenry at large become aware of what's at stake if reductions cuts are not balanced with additional revenue increases.The bi-partisan group charged with this task is under tremendous pressure from Tea Party factions, lobbyist and obstructionist who are hell bent on foiling an Obama second term. Believe it or not this is every one's fight whether you are "Occupying" or otherwise. Ladies and Gents, wise up, get in engaged, and get ready to call your Representatives. COP 24/7 supports this effort and will continue to post as details develop. The letter reads as follows: 

November _ 2011

The Honorable Senator Patty Murray The Honorable Representative Jeb Hensarling
Chairwoman Chairman
448 Russell Senate Office Building 129 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Senator Murray, Representative Hensarling, and Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction:

We are writing on behalf of organizations committed to advancing access to health care services for poor and low-income individuals living with complex medical conditions. Deficit reduction is an important federal priority, but it must not be achieved at the expense of vulnerable Americans. As you work to develop a deficit reduction plan, we urge you to take a fair and balanced approach, incorporating both spending cuts and revenue increases.

Revenue increases should make up at least one half of any deficit reduction plan. Taking in to account the $1 trillion in cuts enacted under the Budget Control Act (BCA), a deficit reduction plan that achieves half of its savings through revenue increases would still represent a cuts-to-revenue ratio of 2:1. This ratio is consistent with the President’s proposal, the Bowles-Simpson proposal, and the Senate Gang of Six proposal.

If revenue increases do not make up a significant part of deficit reduction, the costs of deficit reduction will fall most heavily on low-income and middle class Americans who rely on federal programs for access to health care. Cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and discretionary health care programs will cause millions of low-income Americans to lose access to essential medical care. Cuts to critical reforms emphasizing prevention and wellness, affordable coverage, and cost-effective coordinated care will lead to poorer public health and increased health care costs now and in the long run.

Past deficit reduction packages have included revenue increases and protected programs for disadvantaged Americans. All major deficit reduction packages in the past 30 years have included significant revenues increases—including the 1982, 1984, 1987, 1990, and 1993 packages. In addition to increasing revenues, the major deficit reduction packages of the 1990s also protected programs for low-income Americans. In fact, these packages reduced poverty and inequality while also reducing deficits. Both the 1990 and 1993 packages increased the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the 1997 package created the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

There is ample room for the committee to make revenues increases at least one half of deficit reduction. Among other options, revenue increases could include the following:

Reduce tax expenditures: The U.S. tax code currently includes more than $1 trillion in annual tax expenditures in the form of loopholes, subsidies, and write-offs for corporations, the wealthy, and special interests. This is a greater expenditure than Medicaid and Medicare combined. Closing these tax loopholes could achieve significant deficit reduction.

Let the Bush-era tax cuts expire: The Bush tax cuts have cost the government almost $2.5 trillion in lost revenue between 2001 and 2010, and current projections indicate that the lost revenue from these tax cuts will grow in the years ahead. Furthermore, 40% of the benefit of these tax cuts has gone to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Allowing the tax cuts


to expire for the wealthiest income brackets would thus provide for substantial deficit reduction.

Return to 2009 estate tax levels: Repealing the 2010 estate tax reforms, which benefit only the top 0.25% of estates (those with a value in excess of $10 million), would provide substantial revenues to reduce the deficit.

Deficit reduction can and should be accomplished while continuing to protect programs that low-income and vulnerable Americans rely on. We oppose any plan that would cut federal health care spending and shift Medicaid costs to states. Shifting costs to states will result in reduced access to health care services for vulnerable populations. Instead, savings from health care should focus on strategies that support early access to care, which lowers overall health care costs. This cannot be accomplished unless Congress takes a fair and balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes revenue increases.

If you have any comments regarding this letter, please contact Robert Greenwald, Treatment Access Expansion Project (

Respectfully submitted by,

Treatment Access Expansion Project

AIDS Action Baltimore | AIDS Alabama | AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) | Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center - San Francisco, CA | HIV Law Project | HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA) | Project Inform | L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center | Latino Commission on AIDS | Lifelong AIDS Alliance | National Coalition for LGBT Health | Treatment Access Expansion Project | VOCAL-NY (Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders)

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