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Public Statements

Letter to Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

Sixty-four Members of Congress joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) in a request to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Supercommittee) to protect the vital programs that comprise our social safety net. The Members of Congress penned a letter urging the Supercommittee to protect the programs that provide economic security and opportunity to millions of Americans, including but not limited to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

"It is imperative that we protect vital safety net programs and programs that provide economic security and opportunity to millions of Americans, including those facing or living in poverty," said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. "Key federal programs are instrumental in serving as the last line of defense after a job loss, injury, or disability. Programs like unemployment insurance, food stamps, and Medicaid assist people in obtaining or maintaining their access to basic human needs including food, shelter, and health care. They provide the rungs of the ladder for opportunity for struggling families."

The Supercommittee has been tasked with finding at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions over a ten-year period by November 23 of this year, putting the most vulnerable in our society at risk of losing their safety net. The Census Bureau released data on September 13, 2011, revealing that 15 percent of Americans -- 46.2 million people across this country -- lived in poverty in 2010. This is the largest number of Americans living in poverty since the Census started collecting this data 52 years ago. For our nation's children under 18, 22 percent lived in poverty in 2010. That is 16.4 million children who do not know where their next meal is coming from, where they might be sleeping that night, and who are anxious overall about their well being and that of their parents.

"We have a moral and an economic obligation to care for our nation's most vulnerable, those facing or living in poverty," said Congresswoman Lee. "For the last 25 years, there is a reason that when we have come to deficit reduction agreements, we protect low-income programs. These programs both support and create consumers, which result in increased demand and job creation. In the end, this reduces our deficit by enabling people to participate in our economy."

Follow Barbara Lee on Twitter @RepBarbaraLee

October 13, 2011

Dear Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction:

We are writing to request that you protect vital programs that comprise our social safety net, including but not limited to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, as well as the programs that provide economic security and opportunity to millions of Americans.

Vital safety net services and programs support those people hit the hardest by the Great Recession. These services help people and families maintain housing or find shelter, keep food on the table, assist in access to health care, and support those looking for employment, including the long-term unemployed. Examples of federal programs that provide such services include programs which assist disabled veterans to find an accessible home, ensure seniors receive food to eat, help people access our health care system, connect people seeking jobs with employment, give shelter to homeless families, and ensure that children get meals in school.

It is imperative that we protect vital safety net programs and programs that provide economic security and opportunity to millions of Americans, including those facing or living in poverty. The Census Bureau released data on September 13, 2011, revealing that 15 percent of Americans -- 46.2 million people across this country -- lived in poverty in 2010. This is the largest number of Americans living in poverty since the Census started collecting this data 52 years ago. For our nation's children under 18, 22 percent lived in poverty in 2010. That is 16.4 million children who do not know where their next meal is coming from, where they might be sleeping that night, and who are anxious overall about their well being and that of their parents.

According to the recent Census data release on poverty, the poverty numbers would have been worse had it not been for key federal programs like unemployment insurance, food stamps, and Medicaid (Census Bureau slide 25 located at http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/pdf/2010_Report.pdf).

For the last 25 years when we have come to deficit reduction agreements, these agreements have protected low-income programs. Beyond that, we have a moral and an economic obligation to care for our nation's most vulnerable, those facing or living in poverty. We respectfully implore that as you work through ways that our nation can reduce the deficit that you sustain our nation's safety net programs that assist people in obtaining or maintaining their access to basic human needs including food, shelter, and health care, and that provide ladders to opportunity for struggling families. These programs both support and create consumers, which result in increased demand and job creation. In the end, this reduces our deficit by enabling people to participate in our economy.

Again, we respectfully implore that as you work through ways that our nation can reduce the deficit that you sustain the vital human needs programs found across the federal government and accomplish deficit-reduction in a way that does not exacerbate poverty or inequality.

Sincerely,

Barbara Lee

Joe Baca

Robert A. Brady

Corrine Brown

G.K. Butterfield

André Carson

David N. Cicilline

Donna M. Christensen

Hansen Clarke

Yvette Clarke

Steve Cohen

John Conyers, Jr.

Elijah E. Cummings

Danny K. Davis

Rosa L. DeLauro

Theodore E. Deutch

Michael F. Doyle

Donna F. Edwards

Keith Ellison

Bob Filner

Marcia L. Fudge

Charles A. Gonzalez

Al Green

Raúl M. Grijalva

Luis V. Gutierrez

Janice Hahn

Maurice D. Hinchey

Michael M. Honda

Jesse L. Jackson Jr.

Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr.

Dennis J. Kucinich

Sheila Jackson Lee

John Lewis

Carolyn B. Maloney

Doris O. Matsui

Edward J. Markey

Jim McDermott

James P. McGovern

Brad Miller

Gwen Moore

Jerrold Nadler

Eleanor Holmes Norton

John W. Olver

Donald M. Payne

Charles B. Rangel

Silvestre Reyes

Laura Richardson

Cedric L. Richmond

Steven R. Rothman

Lucille Roybal-Allard

Bobby L. Rush

Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan

Loretta Sanchez

Jan Schakowsky

Robert C. "Bobby" Scott

José E. Serrano

Terri A. Sewell

Fortney Pete Stark

John F. Tierney

Paul D. Tonko

Edolphus Towns


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