WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after Congress passed legislation to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff”:
“The deal to avert the fiscal cliff is a step in the right direction for our economy and our country. It prevents a massive tax increase on the middle class, extends lifesaving unemployment benefits for an additional 12 months, and preserves and extends the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the new American Opportunity Tax Credit that will help make college more affordable. Further, there were no benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. The administration and Congress should be applauded for their bipartisan support of these measures, which will help all Americans, but especially communities of color, women, people with disabilities, low-income communities and others who least can afford the risk of a new recession.
Unfortunately, the deal delays but does not eliminate the threat of deep spending cuts, known in Congress-speak as the ‘sequestration,’ which could needlessly damage our economy by taking an ax to vital programs that serve to expand opportunity and provide needed infrastructure. This deal also raises the threat of another dangerous debt-ceiling showdown like the one in 2011 that led to a downgrade in the U.S. credit rating. Our nation simply can’t allow itself to be held hostage in the same way again. We applaud the President for establishing a firm marker against negotiating on the debt ceiling.
We hope that when the 113th Congress is sworn in this week it will heed the will of the people to make job creation its first and overarching priority. The fastest and most sound way to strengthen our economy and reduce our deficit is to create opportunity that will put more people back to work as quickly as possible. While we did not go over the fiscal cliff, we have yet to commit to the bold action our country needs to ensure long-term, shared prosperity that provides opportunity for everyone.”