A Note from Bruce Lesley



Dear Impact Network Members,

Without a doubt, this year’s political dialog is revolving around balancing budgets and reducing deficits. In fact, it’s impossible to open a newspaper or watch the evening news without hearing about cutting programs to solve our nation’s fiscal challenges. However, in the midst of the never-ending conversation about spending verses slashing, have you ever wondered what the threat of cutting programs means for America’s children?

This is a question policymakers, parents, advocates, voters, and young people like you should all be asking themselves. Critically important programs that help children stay healthy, safe, and succeed in school are at risk because unfortunately, many of the spending proposals debated on Capitol Hill have made children an afterthought in the federal budget, rather than a focus. And as a result, children are likely to become the beneficiaries of an ever narrowing slice of federal spending.

There is no question that tough times call for tough measures. With the national debt surpassing $14 trillion, our nation needs solutions that will increase revenue and decrease spending, with a long term plan to steadily and responsibly reduce the deficit. But cutting spending on programs that are essential to our children’s well being – such as health care, prenatal care, early education, child care, education, child welfare, and nutrition – is not the way to solve our budget and deficit problems. And the American people agree!

Last week, First Focus released the results of a new public opinion survey that demonstrate strong public support for protecting federal investments that benefit children. In a battery of survey questions identifying a series of potential cuts that Congress may consider in the broader budget debate, the survey finds that voters are more likely to protect programs affecting kids than any other programs on the chopping block.

Furthermore, results from the poll reveal cuts to programs affecting kids prove just as unpopular as cuts affecting seniors. In fact, voters are as likely to oppose reductions in Medicaid (a federal health program that provides care to low-income children, the elderly, and the disabled) as in Medicare (a federal health program that provides care to the elderly). Voters also are more concerned about protecting children’s programs than a variety of other federal programs, such as transportation funding for highway construction, national defense, and medical and scientific research. Indeed, the American people are sending a message that is loud and clear: don't cut kids!

It is often said that because children in our country cannot vote or contribute money to politicians their voices are rarely heard in the corridors of power. I challenge you to prove that statement false. While you may not have the right to vote, you do have the right to raise your voice on behalf of your generation and to ask politicians to make different choices. Urge our nation’s leaders to protect the needs of children as they work to find solutions to America’s budget challenges by contacting your Members of Congress or by submitting a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Children only represent one-quarter of America’s population, but they represent all of our future. And making sure that America has the most healthy, most educated, best-prepared kids in the world to tackle the challenges that lie ahead can only be achieved by protecting investments in children today.

Sincerely,

Bruce Lesley
President, First Focus