October 4, 2001
Re: Maintaining U.S. Domestic Programs in the Aftermath of the September 11th Attacks
On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), we are writing on a matter of utmost importance to all Americans concerned with maintaining crucial domestic programs at this time of international crisis. Specifically, the LCCR requests your support for adequate funding for our nation’s important domestic programs. The LCCR is a coalition of 180 national organizations working to advance civil and human rights laws and policies.
Our national economy, as well as the economies of so many state and local governments, is very fragile; and the needs of many citizens have grown dramatically, particularly due to the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. and the resulting loss of jobs and economic dislocation. Now more than ever, our nation should address these needs and prevent any reduction in spending that would create an even greater drag on the economy.
The new fiscal year has started and none of the FY 2002 spending bills have been signed into law. While White House negotiators and congressional leaders have reportedly reached an agreement to increase the cap on discretionary spending for FY 2002, there still would not be enough provided for domestic needs. The Leadership Conference is very concerned that non-defense discretionary programs are still likely to experience cuts in current funding. This is both shocking and unconscionable, given the massive tax cut that was recently given to wealthy Americans.
In our opinion, it is only fair that if the cap on discretionary spending is to be raised to accommodate President Bush’s $18.4 billion increase in defense spending and $4 billion in education spending, that additional funding be provided for other unmet urgent needs. If cuts in domestic spending take place, it will be the disadvantaged in this country that will be forced to shoulder the burden. This is wrong and should not be permitted.
Most economists agree that we need spending increases at this time, not reductions in domestic spending. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, our first priority should be domestic security, which not only includes airport security and other counter-terrorism strategies, but also funding for programs that strengthen the social and economic infrastructure of working Americans. We need to strengthen the unemployment insurance program to enable lower wage and part-time workers to qualify, to provide extended and supplemental unemployment benefits, and to provide adequate and reliable funding of state operations. We should also modify the free food stamps program to strengthen its counter cyclical benefits by allowing more families to qualify. In addition, we should provide additional health benefits, energy assistance, and health care for unemployed and poor individuals and families.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is committed to supporting laws and policies that respond to the pressing needs of the American people, particularly during these times of economic uncertainty. We hope you will be able to assist us in this effort and that we will be able to count on your support in meeting the domestic needs of millions of Americans by opposing any further cuts in these important programs.
Gerald W. McEntee
American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees
Dorothy I. Height
National Council of Negro Women
Chairperson , LCCR
|Wade Henderson |