Out of The Spotlight

The President’s Budget: How Poverty Programs Fare

"Out of the Spotlight" Posting for February 21, 2012


Those who care about poverty always await the release of the President’s budget with great anticipation, and this year is no exception, particularly in light of continuing debates about the size and scope of federal spending. With President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal out last week, OOTS offers a quick peek at some of the programs and proposals targeted to low-income Americans.


Food and nutrition assistance funding was largely maintained in the president’s budget blueprint.  The proposal restores previous cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, includes funds for accessing healthy foods to combat food deserts, and provides full funding for the estimated 9.1 million participants in the Women, Infants, and Children program.

 

Many other poverty-related programs in the proposed budget either held onto existing funding or enjoyed added support. The budget proposal permanently expands the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. In addition, The New York Times reports proposed increases in mandatory spending for Medicare and Medicaid by about 9 percent in order to accommodate rising costs of providing healthcare to people in poverty, as well as the elderly and disabled.

 

Some programs, however, were either allocated reduced funds or didn’t receive as much support as in years past.  For example, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) was budgeted at $3 billion.  This represents an increase from last year to reflect rising heating oil costs, but is still a decrease from funding levels of previous years.  LIHEAP funding uncertainties have been the subject of numerous newspaper articles and even a recent OOTS. In addition, the Community Services Block Grant program, which helps fund local poverty-alleviation programs, faces a cut of more than $300 million.

These and many other programs are covered in an Office of Budget and Management’s fact sheet entitled “Giving a Hand Up to Low-Income Families,” which you can check out
here.


Pam Fessler, NPR’s correspondent for poverty and philanthropy and a panelist at Spotlight’s January
event, provided an overview of potential budget cuts to programs that support low-income people, noting, “Programs to help low- and moderate-income Americans appear to have escaped serious cuts, in part because they've been cut so much already. There are many on Capitol Hill who think there's still a lot of spending waste — more tightening is likely as lawmakers try to further reduce the size of government. But anti-poverty groups will continue making the argument that now is not the time to weaken safety net programs relied upon by many Americans, and they've had some success in recent budget fights.”

As President Obama’s recommended spending blueprint makes its way through the approval process, despite many legislators and political analysts saying the budget is “going nowhere on Capitol Hill, OOTS anticipates continuing debate over the future of programs that help millions of poor people in this country.  Stay tuned.


Posted by Jodie

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Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn't always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and their impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact mlaracy@aecf.org or watersboots@hotmail.com