Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thank you! But Our Work Continues...

On Thursday April 14, 2010, the U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives in voting to keep the Federal government funded until September 30, 2011. Thanks to all your efforts, the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG), the central source of funding for Community Action across the country, was reduced from $700 million to $680 million in the Fiscal Year 2011 Federal Budget, which could have been worse given that Congress was seeking to eliminate the program. While Community Action overcame its first budget hurdle with minimal cuts, there will be many more to come.


On August 2, 2011, the U.S. Government will reach its debt ceiling, which is the limit set by Congress on the amount of money it can borrow. Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, has been able to stretch the period through administrative means, but he has informed Congress that, if they do not raise the current debt ceiling by that date, the United States will no longer be able to pay its bills.

Currently, President Obama and Vice President Obama are convening negotiations between the Republican and Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate and Congress in order to reach a compromise to extend the debt ceiling. They are discussing even more severe cuts in Federal funded, domestic programs, including CSBG, as part of an agreement in order to increase the debt limit. The two sides find themselves at an impasse over the president’s insistence that tax increases as well as spending cuts be included in an agreement.


In addition, the Administration and House Republicans are still proposing devastating budget cuts and dramatic changes to Community Action for Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) beginning on October 1, 2012. In July, Congressional Budget Committees will recommend at what funding amount domestic programs will look like in FY12. The cuts, if allowed, will dismantle the Community Action network that millions of citizens rely on. Organizations nationwide will be hit hard if these changes go through. More importantly, critical services for economically disadvantaged families will be lost.


CSBG is the ONLY federal program focused on comprehensive services to helping Americans achieve economic security.

Cutting CSBG and pursuing uncertain reforms to the program will undermine the nation’s future. Working Americans need jobs that contribute to the nation’s overall economic growth. The way to respond to the need for jobs is to invest in employment training programs as well as job creation and placement. That is exactly what CSBG does so well.

In addition, CSBG enables all the other antipoverty programs, including Head Start, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Program, and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, to have more of an impact in moving individuals out of poverty.


For these reasons, one has to ask why we are putting such a valuable program in danger. All of us need to let our elected officials know that Community Action is important. $680 million for CSBG is a small percentage of the overall $11 trillion Federal Budget and yet has helped 20.7 million low-income individuals, created and retained over 18,400 jobs, and assisted in accessing $14.9 billion in total funding.

You can call or email the President and your representatives in Congress. Tell them how Community Action has made a difference in your life. And encourage others to do the same!