Sequester’s Impact Tops Agenda at CDFI Coalition Institute Conference

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CongressCongress is ideologically polarized to the point where it’s seemingly impossible to get any “big deals” done. The most we can hope for, and expect, is that the remnants of compromise will enable enough small deals to happen to facilitate basic operation of the government. Until the character of Congress changes, this seems to be the only path of least resistance.

The political conscience of Congress has long since adopted the ideology of personal responsibility and abandoned that of corporate accountability. As Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson phrased it in their book Winner-Take-All-Politics, “A rising tide lifts all yachts.”

A panel of community development experts reached this consensus at the 2013 CDFI Coalition Institute’s conference in Washington D.C. last week. I moderated this “Federal Budget and Tax Reform” discussion at the conference’s opening session. Not surprisingly, the primary topics of the panel were all about the money and included:

–The sequestration
–The continuing resolution due to expire on March 27
–The President’s FY 2014 Budget expected out in early March
–Tax reform discussions gaining steam in Congress

Bob Rapoza, Rapoza Associates; Katherine Morris, CohenReznick; and Eileen Fitzgerald, NeighborWorks America, provided insight into the potential impact of budget and deficit reduction measures.The conference attracted community development leaders from across the nation to discuss federal policy issues facing CDFIs. Conference attendees also met with Congressional members on Capitol Hill to share their recommendations.

Sequestration’s Potential Impacts
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that if the Budget Control Act’s automatic spending cuts remain in effect, they would reduce government spending deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over ten years, from 2012 to 2021.

Cuts are divided between defense-related and domestic spending. On the domestic side, cuts will affect health care, unemployment benefits, non-profit organization funds, education, law enforcement, disaster relief, scientific research and more. No funding cuts are allocated for Medicaid, Social Security, Pell grants, veterans’ benefits and some low-income programs.

The White House  estimates that under sequestration:

–The government’s small business loan guarantees would get slashed by more than $900 million
–More than 100,000 formerly homeless people will lose their current housing
–Checks for unemployed people looking for work would shrink by up to nine percent
–About 125,000 low-income families would be at risk of losing their housing because of rental assistance cuts
–Care for up to 373,000 seriously mentally ill  people would be eliminated
–About 70,000 children would lose access to early education through Head Start
–Up to 2,100 fewer food inspections could occur, putting families at risk and costing billions in lost food production
–Several thousand researchers could lose their jobs and up to 12,000 scientists and students would also be impacted

Contact Your Congressional Representative
We encourage you to share your concerns about the impacts of these cuts on economic development and the most vulnerable members of our society by writing to your Congressional representative.

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