The holiday season is here. Many people have family, food, and shopping on their minds. Yet, 1.8 million people are thinking of something else. They are wondering how they will take care of their families, put food on the table, and if they can afford any holiday toys for their children. They are members of the unemployed who have been hardest hit by the economic downturn and are set to lose their unemployment benefits in January 2012 if a one-year extension is not passed.
What is Congress’s response to this? Some of our elected representatives are considering cutting billions of dollars from programs that help unemployed workers, YWCA clients and others. Others are considering making monumental changes to the unemployment insurance program such as requiring unemployed individuals to work for their benefits. And at least one member of congress has mentioned extending tax cuts for people making over $200,000 a year- the very same tax cuts that the majority of people across the country oppose.
The YWCA sees first-hand the tough times facing women and families and as a result is providing shelter, childcare, bus subsidies, and medicine for sick children – the bare essentials people need. That is why it frustrates us to no end when some in Washington seem to ignore the real crisis facing women and families across this country and instead pursue policies that will not help those in need.
Budget and tax policy is a statement of our country’s priorities; right now, a priority should be helping YWCA clients, women, and families who have been hurt by this recession. Yet, even with unemployment at 8.6%, some in Congress still oppose unemployment benefits, want to cut vital programs, and extend tax cuts.
Thankfully, we have champions in Congress who believe this is the wrong policy. Please join the YWCA in standing strong with them and speak out on behalf of the millions of women and their families who rely on unemployment benefits and economic security programs. Help us tell Congress: YWCA clients, women, and children did not create this recession; and cutting programs that help them, while rewarding others with tax breaks, will not get us out of it.
Call your member of Congress at (888)-245-3381. You will have to make three calls: one to your Representative and one to each of your Senators. To find the names of your elected officials click here.
“My name is _________ and I am a constituent. I know Congress has a lot to do before it adjourns. However, I am calling to urge the (Representative/Senator) to do three things that will help families in (insert state):
1) support a one-year extension of long-term unemployment benefits for people including YWCA clients who cannot find jobs;
2) support passage of a year-long spending bill with funding for both the Child Care Development Block Grant Program, and Violence Against Women Act programs;
3) oppose extending tax cuts for people making over $200,000 a year.
As your constituent, I believe providing unemployment benefits and investing in programs such as childcare are sensible, and valuable, uses of federal funds. Extending tax breaks that will add billions of dollars to our national debt is not. Women and children did not create this recession; and cutting programs that help them, while giving others tax breaks, will not get us out of it.
On the federal level, the budget and appropriations process is a statement of the priorities of the President and Congress as it outlines what the federal government will spend revenue on and how much it will spend. It also outlines what programs will receive cuts and how great a cut.
Similarly, federal tax policy outlines what individuals and/or businesses the President and Congress decide to provide tax relief for, and how much relief. Citizens influence budget and tax policy when they advocate for, or against, spending on programs, such as pushing to increase funding for child care, and when they advocate for, or against, tax relief such as pushing for cuts to property taxes.
Before Congress adjourns in December, three must-pass bills will have to be voted on:
1) extending unemployment insurance;
2) federal funding for fiscal year 2012; and
3) an extension of tax cuts that are set to expire on January 1, 2012.
You may find these links helpful:
- National Employment Law Project’s briefing paper on unemployment insurance extension
- Economic Policy Institute’s issue brief on unemployment insurance extension
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YWCA USA is a partner in HERvotes, a coalition of leading women’s organizations focused on mobilizing women voters in 2012 around preserving women’s Health and Economic Rights (HERrights.) This post is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.