By Janis Bowdler, Director of Economic Policy, NCLR
Why is it so difficult for our leaders on Capitol Hill to grasp the concept that government policies should not harm children and families?
Another month has gone by and still Congress refuses to do anything to replace the sequester—the harmful budget cuts that are decimating health care, housing, and education programs across this nation. Government agencies and nonprofits are feeling the pressure of tightening budgets, but for the families and children that rely on their services, sequestration is personal.
On May 9–11, 2013, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) surveyed more than 4,000 registered Latino voters in Colorado, Florida, and Nevada via telephone about their views on the federal budget. An overwhelming 92% of participants agreed that balancing the federal budget should not place an undue burden on families or children, with more than 74% assigning this as a high priority.
Latino voters voiced support for alternative ways to get our federal budget back on track without hurting families. More than half of respondents agreed that high-income individuals and corporations should pay more to reduce the deficit, while an additional 30% said a combination of budget cuts and raising new revenue for job creation would be the best method for balancing the budget.
But so far these suggestions have fallen on deaf ears, and in the coming months more and more budget cuts will be phased in. Maybe the moral argument is just not compelling enough for our members of Congress to take action. If that’s the case, then perhaps a simple political calculation will get their attention.
The states that we surveyed—Florida, Colorado, and Nevada—were all swing states in the last presidential election. Latino voters were a crucial electorate in each of these states, truly making a difference in determining who won and who lost. The Hispanic community will only gain political power in the coming years, so politicians should be taking the concerns of these voters seriously.
It’s clear that regardless of region, age, party affiliation, or gender, Latino voters believe that balancing the federal budget should not come at the expense of families and children. If that is the case, then the sequester must go. This country needs a fair and responsible long-term budget plan that protects our communities and invests in our economy. And if Congress refuses to deliver a solution, Latinos will certainly have their say come the next election.