By Kate Meyer*
Advocates, policymakers and researchers alike participated in this week’s webinar Road to Shared Prosperity: Fighting for Economic Security Through Grassroots Advocacy, hosted by Half in Ten . Half in Ten is a joint project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, The Leadership Conference, and the Center on Human Needs. The webinar included presentations from Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Al Franken (D-MN), both ardent advocates for balancing a budget that helps not hurts struggling families and communities. Robert Greenstein, Founder and Executive Director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, shared his insights into the severity of the budget cuts currently being discussed in D.C. Desmond Brown from Catholic Charities and Melissa Boteach of Half in Ten shared new ways to conceptualize the threats to low-income families and strategies for action. Bishop Gene Robinson, currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, moderated the webinar.
There was a consensus among the speakers that we must not sacrifice social supports for American families and community in order to achieve long-term fiscal order. House Republicans, however, want to do just that—and on an unprecedented scale. Their proposed cuts of $100 billion to non-security and entitlement discretionary spending would have a devastating impact on the nearly 100 million low-income Americans. And then there are bills like the one sponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to limit federal spending to 20.6% of GDP  (even under Reagan federal spending was 22% of GDP). Or the proposal to write a balanced budget requirement into the Constitution.
As a result, programs such as expanding reduced price and free school meals, the Cash for Jobs  bill, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program  (LIHEAP) and others that are priorities to Sen. Franken, or the Earned Income Tax Credits  that is top on Sen. Brown’s list, will suffer greatly. Maybe the new research  demonstrating that the cost of child poverty on the United States economic output is 4% of GDP, or $500 billion, will be persuasive to those more concerned with finances than families. Clearly, NOT investing in those living on the edge of desperation is costing the U.S. economy.
To get our country back on track, without leaving anyone behind, Greenstein advocated fiscal stimulus now, fiscal relief for struggling state and local governments now, and deficit reduction provisions which kick-in after the economy recovers. Want to learn how to most effectively jump in to the debate? Half in Ten is offering trainings in communications, innovative in-district advocacy, and story banking , as well as other tools for action on their website .
*Kate Meyer is a Research and Programs intern with the National Council for Research on Women. She holds a Bachelor’s in Government from Cornell.