Fiscal Policy Legislative Agenda for the 112th Congress (2011-2012)

Introduction

Federal fiscal policy is the primary tool used by Congress and the Administration to address critical societal problems.  Fiscal policy has and is being wielded with force in an effort to address the current economic crisis in the financial services and other industries.  So too, federal fiscal policy can and should be used to decisively address the crises facing people with disabilities and their families.  The Arc, UCP, AAIDD, ANCOR, AUCD, and NACDD support full and adequate funding for the program services and supports that are needed to enable people with disabilities and their families to be fully included in society.
 
Reductions in federal entitlement spending threaten our constituents.  Changes at the state level could also jeopardize our constituents.  Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are major targets to secure deficit reduction.  Many proposed reductions or modifications to these vital programs will adversely affect our constituents.  Since Medicaid finances lifesaving health care and long term supports for most of our vulnerable constituency who receive supports, their futures are inextricably linked to any shift in Medicaid policy – at either the federal or state level.  The very lives of our constituents are at stake in these policy deliberations.  Some of the changes that have been proposed to the Social Security system, such as reduced benefits and higher retirement dates, could have a devastating impact on beneficiaries.  Federal fiscal policy is also critical because state funding is often based on the amount of federal money available.  When federal funding for programs is cut, state funding rarely increases to make up the difference, and services to our constituents will be reduced, if not eliminated.  The loss of federal stimulus funding to states is expected to further exacerbate the states’ ability to maintain their Medicaid program.  The pressure on states to cut back or eliminate Medicaid services is immense.
 
Like most Americans, we support the need for a strong economy.  However, a truly strong and secure nation can only be achieved if:
  • Federal funding decisions and tax policy do not result in a federal budget that is crafted at the expense of people with disabilities;
  • Services, supports, and benefits critical to the well-being of people with disabilities and their families are protected, improved, and expanded while preserving the principles of independence, choice, and self-determination; and
  • When needed, the federal government leads or assists states in being fair and efficient in carrying out their responsibilities to people with disabilities and their families.

Budget, Entitlements, and Appropriations 

The Arc, UCP, AAIDD, ANCOR, AUCD, and NACDD promote cost-effectiveness when such efforts do no harm to our constituents and allow them to live as independently as possible in the community.Congress sets annual fiscal policy by:  
1.  Adopting a budget resolution that sets annual revenue and spending limits.  The budget resolution is the blueprint for discretionary and entitlement spending;
2.  Adopting annual appropriations bills which set spending levels for the many discretionary programs; and  
3.  Enacting a reconciliation bill requiring relevant committees to revise tax policy and entitlement spending (such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Food Stamps) to comply with the budget resolution. The combination of these three major fiscal actions determines the actual funding for all disability benefits, programs and services for the year.

The 112th Congress must:
 
  • Strengthen, not weaken, vital entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, TANF, and food stamps;      

  • Oppose any process which prevents Members of Congress from exercising their legislative responsibilities to carefully consider and vote on legislative changes;

  • Address the significant unmet needs of people with disabilities and their families by expanding the federal government’s investment in people with disabilities to enable them to live and work as independently as possible in the community with appropriate and flexible long term individual and family supports;

  • Ensure that eligibility for services and benefits is not restricted and that the level of services and benefits for entitlement programs (such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security) is not reduced or limited solely to achieve budget cuts;     
     
  • Ensure that the current economic crisis does not severely impact our constituents by extending the temporary increase to the federal share of Medicaid spending; and

  • Remove the Social Security Admini­stration’s administrative budget from any budget cap requirements for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Revenue and Tax Policy

The 112th Congress must:

  • Address the unmet needs of people with disabilities and their families before making further tax cuts or reforming tax policy in a way that negatively impacts low wage earners and other vulnerable people;

  • Assure that tax policies represent a sound investment and will not jeopardize the long term stability of people with disabilities and their families;

  • Protect low income tax payers from paying higher taxes;

  • Enable people with disabilities to be independent and productive;

  • Protect and enhance, not erode, services and benefits for people with disabilities;

  • Protect the Social Security trust funds for use by current and future beneficiaries;

  • Raise sufficient revenues to balance the annual budget and finance the federal government’s role in providing essential supports, services, and benefits for people with disabilities and their families;

  • Roll back or repeal tax cuts and adjust other tax policies that increase the federal deficit or put existing disability programs at risk;

  • Avoid creating impediments to the states’ ability to raise sufficient revenue to meet human needs; and·        

  • Assure the continuing ability of non-governmental entities to support people with disabilities and their families.

Legislative Agenda Partners

We are national organizations that serve and advocate for people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities. We work together to shape, expand, and protect a strong federal role that provides vital benefits, services and supports and assures civil rights for our constituency.