The debt ceiling deal means there is significant work ahead to fight poverty
Washington DC, June 2, 2023—Today, Congress passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act, raising the debt ceiling and preventing the U.S. government from defaulting on its debts. RESULTS joins its partners in expressing relief that lawmakers avoided a catastrophic default scenario, which would have worsened economic conditions for everyone but especially those most marginalized in our society. At the same time, though, this deal creates a false and harmful choice between paying the government’s bills and reducing poverty.
The expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to veterans and those experiencing homelessness could have been a positive step toward addressing food insecurity, but it comes at the expense of others grappling with hunger. The law imposes onerous work reporting requirements on older adults accessing SNAP, a demographic that struggles to gain a foothold in the labor market. The bureaucratic process of work reporting is dehumanizing and puts food access further out of reach for older adults who disproportionately experience physical limitations. “Food is a universal human right,” says RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund Executive Director, Dr. Joanne Carter, “increasing hunger and instability for those with the lowest incomes is not a pathway toward prosperity and justice.”
This legislation also creates a damaging trajectory for SNAP, converting it from a food program into an employment monitoring program in the long-term. There is no evidence that the red tape of work reporting increases employment or earnings, but ample evidence shows the disastrous outcomes of withholding access to food. “RESULTS’ network of grassroots advocates will use their voices to alter this dangerous shift for SNAP and other essential anti-poverty programs as upcoming legislation provides opportunities for action,” continued Dr. Carter.
Other funding cuts in this new law pose a significant threat to the safety and well-being of people globally and domestically. Spending caps could severely limit the U.S.’s ability to do its part in fighting deadly pandemics like tuberculosis, which now kills more people worldwide than any other infectious disease. Depleted IRS funding will exacerbate inequities in the tax code, which currently offers no support to renters and leaves millions out of poverty-fighting benefits like the Child Tax Credit. With new tax legislation, the Farm Bill, and fiscal year 2024 spending bills on the docket, the RESULTS network will mobilize to demand full funding for anti-poverty programs. “We must ensure that the most marginalized in our midst do not shoulder the burden of government spending cuts,” said Dr. Carter.