We Can No Longer Afford This Wave of Tax Cuts

Given the decade of budget deficits facing the federal government, the fiscal crises being experienced by most of the states, and the need for resources to accomplish the priorities that many Americans identify as much more important than tax cuts, the following organizations came together to urge Congress to act during the coming year to stop the next phase-in of the tax cuts (which will occur in 2004). We urge people to begin a debate about what our national priorities are and whether we can afford more tax cuts, which will primarily only benefit wealthier Americans, as we face the challenges ahead.

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Why Federal Budget Rules Matter

As we often try to remember on these pages, the federal budget, which may superficially appear to be merely a convoluted collection of insignificant numbers, is actually the decoder ring to a better understanding of our country’s real priorities -- since not a lot happens to improve a problem without spending money, the federal budget reveals which problems our country’s policy makers are working to improve. Even less understood and farther removed from our daily lives are the intricacies of federal budget rules. These rules, which govern how the House and Senate must work to craft the country’s annual budget, are in place to ensure that sufficient time is given to debating and developing the a course for tackling the nation’s problems.

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About the Senate Budget Process Rules

One reason the nonprofit community was able to stop permanent repeal of the estate tax is that Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) needed 60 votes in the Senate, rather than just a "simple majority" of 51 votes. With the expiration of key Senate budget rules on October 1, however, the Senate may lose this key feature that helped earn it the title of "the world’s greatest deliberative body."

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Social Investment Initiative

For more information on the SII, please contact our Federal Budget project

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EPI's Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)

The Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) is a collaboration between the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and state-level and regional economic research organizations. EARN links local, state, and national groups that conduct and disseminate research on a range of economic issues, including wages and benefits, incomes, jobs, unemployment, workforce and economic development, minimum and living wages, Social Security, and other issues related to living standards. EPI provides the network with technical assistance in research and communications and fosters networking and capacity building.

More on EPI

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National Priorities Project Database

The National Priorities Project Database offers state data on socio-economic needs and federal expenditures, and allows the user to create customized tables, graphs and reports. The database is searchable by issue area (e.g., income, housing, hunger) and by state. Data is also available for the U.S. as a whole.

Use of the database is free, though returning visitors are asked to register (free of charge). NPP notes that it will not share or sell any of the information collected through the registration form.

More on the National Priorities Project

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Demos: New Opportunities?

This Demos report -- New Opportunities? Public Opinion on Poverty and Inequality and Public Policy: 1996-2001 -- uses more than 12 different surveys commissioned by various nonprofit organizations, foundations, and media outlets, and 2 academic surveys of public opinion to provide a look at how the American public views the causes of and potential remedies for poverty.

The report highlights two seemingly conflicting values in American society -- "individualism" and "egalitarianism" -- that work to shape public opinion of poverty.

The authors also note that, "The data in this paper suggest that using messages that reinforce progressive values of fairness and equality (e.g., if you work hard, you shouldn’t be poor) could be a good starting point for advocates."

More on Demos

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CBPP's Focus on the States

This Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) state page offers detailed analyses of policy proposals and developments that affect states, particularly their low- and moderate-income residents.

The website explains that, "In its state work, the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities works with nonprofit organizations and state policymakers to foster sound budget, tax and low-income program policies through research, analysis, and dissemination of information, with particular emphasis on policies affecting low- and moderate-income people. The Center's state-focused reports examine issues of interest across states and often contain state-by-state data and analysis."

More on CBPP

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OMB Watch's Social Investment Initiative

The Social Investment Initiative (SII) is a two-year planning and action project to prepare a foundation for a longer-term effort to address domestic priorities. SII starts from the premise that federal fiscal policy is a reflection of our priorities as a nation as well as a statement about the role of government in our civil society. Read more about the SII

For more information on the SII, please contact our Federal Budget project.

More on the SII

About the SII
Discussion Groups and Participants

Austin & San Antonio, Texas, Summary
Chicago, Illinois, Summary
Seattle, Washington, Summary

[Note: The following links are still under development -- please check back over the next several weeks.]

Face on the Numbers
SII in the News
Related Efforts and Links to More Information

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Appropriations and Supplemental Spending Bill Update

Negotiations between the House and Senate on the FY 2002 supplemental spending bill (H.R. 4775) broke down after the White House threatened to veto the bill if spending was much more than the $28.8 billion requested by the President and consisted primarily of spending for defense and national security and aid to New York City.

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