This week in the fiscal showdown

By Laurie Young, Task Force Director of Aging and Economic Security

We’ve been focusing recently on how the current budget negotiations could impact lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and our families. Polls now show that the public would hold Republicans in Congress responsible if the country plunges off the “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year, when existing tax cuts will expire and taxes will rise on everyone. This could also mean cuts to supportive programs that provide critical services to those in greatest need.

384px-John_Boehner_official_portraitLast week, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) laid out the House leadership’s plan to end the fiscal showdown. He outlined a plan to preserve tax cuts and draw new revenue by limiting tax deductions and closing tax loopholes. Unfortunately, he did not specify which deductions and which loopholes. Even more disturbing is that the plan also calls for spending reductions in programs that benefit middle-class and low-income families, including LGBT individuals and families. This insistence on making cuts to entitlement spending is nothing new. In fact this week, the suggestion was made to raise the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 years to 67 years.

In response, President Obama has said $800 billion cannot be raised by cutting deductions and closing loopholes, and he called for the House to quickly pass the bill already passed in the Senate. The legislation would eliminate the tax cuts for only the highest incomes and would exclude income under $250,000 for every single person and family (meaning the first $250,000 of household income is excluded from any tax increase).

Time is running out for Congress to act and for resolution on this budget impasse. As LGBT people and allies, your voice is critical in these deliberations. We urge you to contact your member this week and urge them to pass a budget that protects the at risk and marginalized. Take action now!