This week, the U.S. Congress may act to severely cripple the social safety net for health care and human services programs by passing an enormous tax cut bill and considering funding cuts for domestic spending programs.  The time is now to oppose these measures.  The time is now to contact the members of Congress who represent you and the House and Senate leaders who are forcing these decisions.  The Global Justice Institute joins with AIDS activists, the Coalition on Human Needs, and multiple faith groups to demand more resources for health and human services programs, a strengthening of housing supports, well-funded HIV prevention and treatment services, and no further consideration of tax cuts done on the backs of poor and struggling families.
Issue 1:  Tax Cut and Jobs Act
Earlier this fall, the House passed the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which would add at least $1.5 trillion to the national debt and starve resources for social safety net programs and much domestic spending. By some estimates, as much as 40% of households could see a tax increase. Several policy provisions are also objectionable.  The bill contains a stealth provision designed to roll back current protections around reproductive justice.  It would eliminate deductions that incentive and support higher education, home ownership, and adoption.  It would decimate funding for Medicaid and Medicare (health care for low-income/disabled persons and health care for older residents). The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that 75% of the tax cuts in the bill would benefit wealthy corporations and businesses.  The Senate will take up its version of the bill this week. Action is needed now.  Ask your Senators to oppose the bill (and thank them if they have already committed to doing so).
Issue 2:  HIV Programming
Funding bills for the upcoming federal spending cycle would cut the Housing Opportunity for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program by $26 million in the Senate. Stakeholders call for at least $375 million to ensure basic continuity of services.  Housing is key to people’s ability to manage their health needs, especially people living with HIV.  The House proposes to eliminate the Minority AIDS Initiative Fund, which supports HIV prevention, care, treatment, outreach and education activities.
Issue 3:  Budget and Spending Deal
Congress and the President annually decide how money they will spend on federal government programs (budget) and then set about allocating that over each and every program (appropriations).  The problem is that the current budget agreement would slash domestic spending and undermine key health and human services programs.  The currently plan to cut funding for Medicaid by as much at $1.9 trillion over the next decade.  They would cut Medicare by $500 billion over ten years.  Food assistance programs would be cut by almost one-third.  The propose to eliminate funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (which has a proven record of success).  It would gut funding for the Social Security Administration, leaving it unable to process work (or payments) for disabled or older residents. Authority for current spending levels runs out on next Friday, December 8.  They must strike a fair deal.  Your advocacy can make that happen.
Call Congress
  • (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Representatives and your Senators
  • Phone calls are among the BEST way to have your voice heard because they require an immediate response.
  • Be prepared to speak to the member’s staff, but clearly state your opposition to these funding cuts and your support for additional investment in these critical services. Make sure they know that you are from the District/State.
  • Don’t know who represents you?  Find out here.
  • Make the following points:
    • Oppose the Tax Cut and Jobs Act because it funds tax cuts for wealthy corporations on the backs of poor and moderate income families.
    • Fully fund all of the HIV and AIDS programs, especially those that support housing and resources for women and communities of color.
    • Don’t cut critical programs for vulnerable communities.  Fully fund federal housing programs, low-income heating programs, and services for vulnerable adults.
Take to Social Media
  • Two sample HIV tweets:
    • To achieve an #AIDSFreeGeneration, we need continued & robust funding 4 the @HUD_HOPWA program #FundHIV
    • #Senate proposed to decrease funding 4 @HUD_HOPWA by $26M. Tell #Congress to reject cuts!
    • [instert your rep’s twitter handle] I’m a constituent and join with 1500 groups:  the budget should invest not cut:
  • Sample Facebook posts:
    • Stable housing plays an important role in helping prevent #HIV and helps individuals adhere to their treatment.
    • Increased funding for #HOPWA is needed to ensure safe, affordable housing for low-income people living with #HIV/#AIDS.
    • Dear ${“[“}@Representative/@Senator], I agree with over 1,500 groups nationwide that signed a letter urging you to reject budget cuts that would hurt [your state’s name].  Please read the letter:  #handsoff the health, jobs, and future of millions.
  • Click HERE for more sample tweets/posts.
Visit Your Members’ Offices:
  • If you are able, visit the local office of your members of congress.
  • Find out your who represents you here.  Visit their member websites to find the offices closest to you.
  • It’s best to try and make an appointment with staff or the actual member. But if you just want to walk in, that is fine as well.
  • You can call the local district office as well, and their phone numbers are on their office websites.
The Government and Policy Team can help you with your outreach, including helping to tailor a message to your specific members.  Contact us here.
This action alert was prepared by the Government and Policy Team of the 
Global Justice Institute, Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner-Chair.