If you read the daily news or flip on your television, you may think that the automatic cuts scheduled to take place on January 2nd only affect the Pentagon and defense industries. That is because up until now they have been the only voice heard on the Hill and in the media regarding sequestration. Lawmakers have rushed to the defense of the Department of Defense proclaiming that the near ten percent across-the-board cuts would be devastating to our national security.
But defense is not the only portion of the budget that faces destructive cuts come January. Non-defense discretionary programs (or what we inside the Beltway like to call, “NDD”) face similar cuts that could be disastrous to the well-being of our nation. These programs include things like food and drug safety, education, medical and scientific research, air-traffic control, law enforcement, and national park services, just to name a few. As Emily Holubowich—CRD Associates’ Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Coalition for Health Funding—highlighted in a previous blog post, the NDD Summit has been working tirelessly on planning their response to sequestration for months, kicking off its first awareness activities this month. Early in the month, the Summit sent a letter to the Hill signed by 3,000 organizations, representing the full breadth of NDD interests, calling for a “balanced approach to deficit spending” and no further cuts to NDD spending. The 63-page document included signatures from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US territories. This unprecedented letter piqued the interest of many law makers and the White House due to its immensity and representation of such a variety of interests.
Last week may have been the biggest week yet for NDD activity around the sequester. On Wednesday, CRD Associates staff working on behalf of the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF) organized a rally on the U.S. Capitol grounds titled, Restoring Balance Protecting America’s Families. The event was a great success, with more than 300 people supporting a balanced approach to deficit reduction. Senator Harkin led the event at which Senator Murray, Congresswoman DeLauro, Congressman Miller, and Mayor Stanton of Phoenix all spoke on how cuts to NDD would hurt Americans. Also speaking at the rally were small business owner Martin G. Knott and single working mom Rita Ngabo, who both spoke about how government programs help them and others through job training and child care services. There was a lot of enthusiasm from the speakers and the crowd to protect NDD and the programs that serve all Americans, and to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction. The event drew diverse media outlets. Al Jazeera, PBS, and CNN all taped the event and reporters from Politico, The Huffington Post and others were also in the crowd. (Pictures below)
Following such great successes, CHF had the opportunity to meet with Senior Advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett and Director of the Office of Public Engagement John Carson at the White House. The White House praised the letter and the effort to unite all of NDD to stave off cuts. It was heartening to hear that everyone at the White House – including President Obama– is aware of the letter and our efforts.
With newfound awareness surrounding the NDD cuts in the media and on the Hill, the Summit hopes to use its greatest strength—its people – to protect the programs that touch the lives of Americans every day. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more from the NDD United campaign for a balanced approach. Follow us on Twitter at @healthfunding and use our hashtag, #NDDUnited.