The deficit and what it means to Black Americans

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(NNPA)—“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As our leadership in Washington, D.C. seeks common ground over the nation’s debt limit, there are some real consequences at stake for the Black community. The debate on Capitol Hill is no longer philosophical, it’s real and the impact on African-Americans and the poor could be devastating. With significant cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid being discussed, our nation’s social safety net is being shred and the quality of life for many of our friends, family and neighbors will be severely impacted. Cuts to Social Security benefits will increase hardships on already stressed seniors, while $250 billion in proposed Medicare cuts will force retirees to make decisions about their health care that might affect their well-being. The poor, disabled and elderly, already the most vulnerable segment of our population, stand to be further disadvantaged if states are allowed to trim their Medicaid rolls through cutbacks to current levels of eligibility.

At $14 trillion, there is no denying the nation’s deficit must be addressed. However, it is unconscionable that the most disadvantaged Americans are being asked to shoulder the burden. Sadly though, we find ourselves in this predicament because too many of us ignore or dismiss important policy debates until it reaches a crisis state. Worse, somehow we have forgotten how we got in this mess and are on the verge of repeating the mistakes that put us in this predicament. Increasing tax cuts and the extension of those cuts, combined with spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have bankrupted our nation. The bill has now come due and those who have been hurt the most are being made scapegoats. Beyond raising the federal debt limit, we must raise the nation’s moral consciousness and restore fairness and balance to federal policymaking.

The bottom line—if we are not engaged in this debate, the responsibility for the nation’s deficit will fall upon the most vulnerable Americans.

Through our economic development initiatives, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation continues to advocate for job creation, small business development, home ownership, personal financial management and wealth generation—the keys to restoring our economy and securing America’s future. What can you do? Get involved, share your thoughts with your member of Congress and the White House and voice your opinion. When citizens are informed, engaged and active participants in moving the country in the right direction, our nation is that much stronger.

If you are interested in learning more about some of the issues addressed in this correspondence, follow CBCF’s CPAR (Center for Policy Analysis and Research) at the 41st Annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference, September 21–24 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. To lead, to serve, to listen to premier voices addressing critical issues facing African-Americans, join us in Washington. To find out more and to register, visit us on line at http://www.ALC11.org or to find out more about CBCF, visit http://www.cbcfinc.org.

(By the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.)

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