Pages tagged "Federal Budget"
Undercounting Kids in the 2020 Census Has Harmful and Long-lasting Consequences: A Primer on the Dangers of an Inaccurate Census
First Focus on Children’s 13th annual Children’s Budget publication offers a comprehensive analysis of how kids and families have been faring in the federal budget over the past five years. The data tells an alarming story. As the children’s share of the federal budget continues to shrink, our analysis found that the share of spending on children has declined to an all-time low of 7.21 percent. The share of spending on children would have dropped even further to just 6.45 percent under the Trump Administration’s proposed FY 2020 budget. In addition, spending on children is not keeping up with rising costs and growing needs. Between FY 2018 and FY 2019, total spending on children experienced an inflation-adjusted cut of nearly 1 percent, which shows that spending on children is not even keeping pace with inflation. On top of this grim picture, as of FY 2018, we now are spending a larger share of the federal budget on interest on the national debt than on children’s programs.
We now spend more servicing the national debt than we do on the children who will inherit it.
The Official Poverty Measure, released by the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this year, reports that 16.2 percent of children (11.9 million) were living in poverty in 2018. Child poverty remains stubbornly high, and we know that children are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty than adults. We should be dedicating more, not fewer, of our federal resources to the well-being of our nation’s children and lifting them out of poverty. Without significant funding increases, critical children’s programs and services will continue to lose ground, and children and families will continue to struggle. Congress must take concerted, proactive steps to prioritize kids in federal budget decisions to help ensure our nation’s children have the resources they need to thrive.
Congress is likely to keep using the Continuing Resolution (CR) mechanism to stave off an impending government shutdown but risks a showdown at the end of the year. In the meantime, lawmakers must negotiate the funding allocations for all 12 annual spending bills. This is no easy task under normal circumstances, and current disagreements and political turmoil only will complicate the process further. We know that CRs translate into inflation-adjusted cuts and inhibit the ability of agencies to plan ahead. The 2019 Children’s Budget book tracks nearly 200 child-focused discretionary programs that could suffer if negotiations collapse and a third CR is necessary — or worse — if the government shuts down again.
In addition to those 200 children’s programs at risk of funding cuts, Congress must address the urgent need for a full and direct appropriation for the 2020 census which also has significant implications for our children in every district, territory, and state. The goal of the census is to count every person, regardless of citizenship status, in all our communities once and only once, and to collect basic information about them in a secure, convenient and confidential manner. A fair, accurate and comprehensive census is imperative because the data determines Congressional reapportionment, guides state and local government representation, and impacts the equitable distribution of hundreds of billions of federal dollars. First conducted in 1790, the census collects data that informs decision‐makers at all levels of government and affects a wide range of policies, including education, health care, and infrastructure. The information also influences private sector investments contributing to communities’ economic development and employment opportunities for the next decade. Inadequate and/or delayed funding for the 2020 census carries substantial consequences for the next decade and beyond, and kids will disproportionately experience the harmful and long-lasting effects of another inaccurate count.
As the Census Bureau heads into peak operations for the successful implementation of the once-a-decade census, the agency urgently needs the certainty of full funding and control of those resources to manage unprecedented and emerging challenges. Given the importance and far-reaching impact of the decennial census, it is seriously troubling that we consistently fail to count children accurately. Children, especially children of color, have the highest net undercount of any age group. Alarmingly, this problem continues to grow. The net undercount for young children has been increasing since 1980, with the census missing more than two million young children in 2010. At the same time, we have witnessed continued improvements for the counting of adults.
With child poverty remaining a persistent problem and more than a million children experiencing homelessness each year, many children live in conditions that make it more likely the census will miss them. In particular, the census is especially likely to miss children under the age of five if they live in complex or multi-family homes, live temporarily with others, live with grandparents, are poor, move frequently, are children of color, or are linguistically isolated. This historic and escalating undercount of children needs to be corrected because children deserve fair government representation and access to vital resources. We must do better in 2020 to overcome this long-term disparity facing our nation’s youngest.
There also is mounting concern that the 2020 census will miss many immigrant families and their children. Distrust of some federal agencies continues to swell in many communities, stemming largely from the current Administration’s aggressive and cruel immigration enforcement tactics and policies. One policy proposal, in particular, that has jeopardized the accurate count of children in immigrant families is the administration’s push to include a citizenship question on the census questionnaire. Although the Supreme Court formally struck down this proposal in June, forcing the administration to remove it from the 2020 questionnaire, the damage is already done with respect to the chilling effect stemming from the proposal. Coupled with this chilling effect, other hostile policies and actions toward immigrants will likely dramatically depress participation of immigrant and mixed-status families who fear negative repercussions from revealing their citizenship status.
For the first time, the 2020 census will be conducted online. While phone and paper responses remain an option, online delivery presents new challenges for the Census Bureau, including unreliable broadband service and infrastructure in some communities, lack of internet access and technological literacy in some households, cybersecurity threats, and budget shortfalls that prevented the government from testing systems and operations thoroughly. On a brighter note, many parents of young children have smartphone access to the internet even when they do not have access at home. There is room to hope that the convenience of filling out the form on a smartphone will help improve the count of young children.
In consideration of recent trends in funding for children and the undercount of children in past surveys, inadequate federal funding and a delay in the availability of much-needed resources for the Census Bureau risk doing further damage. Since Congress did not reach a budget caps deal until late in the fiscal year, limited time existed for appropriators to draft and pass spending bills for FY 2020. At the time of this writing, the House Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill (CJS), which funds the Census Bureau, has passed out of the full chamber with $7.5 billion provided for the census for FY 2020, and the Senate bill includes $6.7 billion for the census. In anticipation of a second CR, the 2020 census must receive full and direct funding for the entirety of FY 2020. The Census Bureau conducts the census under statutory and constitutional deadlines for reporting results so the timing of this funding is critical. As in the past, Congress should provide for full and direct funding of the census under any new CR, and those funds should be in addition to the $1.02 billion in unspent funds for the 2020 Census carried over from FY 2019.
Beyond the immediate funding concerns, there remains a need for adequate funding in FY 2021. The Census Bureau relies on those future resources to manage the critical follow-up work that every census requires, including completion of data files for Congressional allocations and state redistricting. Insufficient funding now and in FY 2021 jeopardizes the success of the 2020 census, resulting in inaccurate and incomplete data that would impact public and private investment decisions and political representation for a decade to come.
On a positive note, the Census Bureau has established a Task Force on the Undercount of Young Children and is working to better target low‐response areas of the country and hard‐to‐reach populations, including young children. To help promote awareness of the census, encourage participation around the country, and improve the count of our kids, the Bureau is planning to launch a national media campaign in January 2020 and continues to pursue strategic outreach activities. The Bureau has developed materials to elevate the importance of counting all children, including infants, and aims to engage and motivate people to self-respond and include young children by associating participation in the census with benefits for one’s local community. The goal of these outreach strategies is to inform the public that high‐quality data better informs political representation and policy decisions, helps assess how our nation’s children and communities are changing and faring and ensures government resources reach those who need them most.
A successful 2020 decennial census requires full-year funding directly to the bureau to implement operational improvement plans that would help to ensure robust participation and maintain the value of the data as a foundation for our democracy, our economy and our political future. We must get it right.
First Focus Campaign for Children applauds budget progress
Urges lawmakers to ensure timely resources for children
The budget caps and debt limit deal reached by Congressional leadership and the Administration this week eliminates the threat of economic disaster stemming from the U.S. defaulting on its debt obligations as well as deep programmatic cuts that would have been triggered under the Budget Control Act of 2011. We applaud this progress and urge the White House and lawmakers to continue working to make certain that vital federal resources are available in a timely manner to meet the growing needs of America’s children.
“We are very relieved that this deal avoids disastrous spending cuts,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. “But the fact is that the share of federal spending on children has been declining for nearly a decade and continues to decline. Congress must prioritize children as it moves forward with funding decisions on FY 2020 appropriations bills.”
With the beginning of the new fiscal year just weeks away, the White House and Congress should keep the communications channels open to ensure timely enactment of the annual appropriations bills and limit stopgap funding measures. Such measures fail to keep pace with inflation and create unpredictable funding levels for important programs serving children and families. It is vital that Congress provide robust funding for appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over a large number of children’s programs. This is especially pressing given the need for adequate funding for an accurate, comprehensive and fair decennial census — without which we risk missing children and short-changing their representation and program funding.
First Focus Campaign for Children applauds Congressional leadership and the Administration for reaching a deal that will avoid what would have been unrealistic and unworkable cuts to NDD spending. As work on these bills moves forward, we urge all parties involved to also consider revenue-raising measures that will improve our long-term fiscal outlook and support investment in children, who are our nation’s future.
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions.
On March 6, 2019, lawmakers introduced the American Family Act of 2019--our statement below:
“I applaud the leadership of Congresswoman DeLauro and Congresswoman DelBene, as well as Senators Bennet and Brown to introduce the ‘American Family Act of 2019’ that would create a child allowance, significantly extending the current child tax credit to reach the families who need it most. The bill would increase the benefit substantially, make it fully refundable, establish a young child tax credit, authorize advance payments on a monthly basis, and adjust the benefit for inflation.
The introduction of this legislation comes on the heels of the release of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine study A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty that concludes a child allowance policy of $3,000 per child per year would produce the largest child poverty reduction, and it would also address the goal of reducing deep child poverty."
-Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children
First Focus Campaign for Children wholeheartedly supports the ‘American Family Act of 2019’ and thanks these lawmakers for continuing to be strong champions for children and families.
Any policies that affect children should base their foundations on the best interests of the child.
Blueprint Shows How 116th Congress Can Act on the Best Interests of Children (more…)
Our nation’s children face an array of problems, including poverty, violence, abuse, neglect, hunger, poor nutrition, education inequity, homelessness, lack of health coverage, infant and child mortality, and family separations in mixed-status households. These obstacles demand attention, policy solutions, political will, and action that to make children a priority.
Unfortunately, kids are far too often an afterthought in Congress. The problem is that children can’t vote and don’t have Political Action Committees (PACs) that garner and demand attention.
Children need Champions and Defenders, who are willing to focus on, support, raise their voices, and attach their name to legislation that would improve the lives of our nation’s children and actively oppose legislation that would harm kids.
In an attempt to recognize the lawmakers in the First Session of the 115th Congress who are actively working and trying to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy change, to improve the lives of our nation’s children through the policy process, we are pleased to present our Champions and Defenders for Children Scorecard.
See also the previous award recipients:
July 19, 2018, Washington, D.C.—In a year marked by partisanship, several Members of Congress stood out as Champions and Defenders of children, according to the 2017 Legislative Scorecard released by First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC), a national bipartisan children’s advocacy group.
“Even though child advocates had to defend a whole range of legislative and regulatory attacks on children, we identified 120 Members of Congress who chose to make children a priority. We commend their leadership and hope they will inspire their colleagues to do the same,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children.
Of note is that, in the 115th Congress, women are 2.6 times more likely to be named a champion or defender of children than men.
The 2017 Champions for Children Scorecard includes key votes on health-related bills and amendments to tax legislation, including two House votes on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, two Senate votes on child tax credit amendments, and four votes between the two chambers on the Affordable Care Act.
For instance, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017 (P.L. 115-97) will increase the deficit by approximately $1.5 trillion, which the next generation will pay off well into the future. The deficit will also trigger cuts to numerous programs vital to children, including Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered an amendment to further expand the CTC by increasing its refundability (make it refundable against payroll taxes), which would have benefitted lower income families. Sadly, despite 68 senators voting for it, the amendment did not pass as senators failed to overcome opposition from Senate leadership and the Trump Administration.
In July 2017, the Senate voted down the “Health Care Freedom Act” (H.R. 1628), which would have resulted in an estimated 16 million Americans losing health coverage and a 20 percent increase in insurance premiums. The First Focus Campaign for Children strongly opposed the bill, and we thank all the members of the Senate who voted against it, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and John McCain (R-AZ).
Out of 90 bills that FFCC is tracking, The Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2017 (S.1630/H.R.3381), would mandate that the federal government create a plan to cut the number of children in poverty by half in ten years and to eliminate child poverty in twenty years. That legislation was sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), who accumulated the most points in the Senate and House for their votes and work on legislation for children.
This is First Focus Campaign for Children’s eighth annual class of Champions and Defenders for Children.
Champions for Children
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
- Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA)
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
- Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
- Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
- Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
- Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
- Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
- Rep. Lou Correa(D-CA)
- Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
- Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)
- Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA)
- Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)
- Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
- Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)
- Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
- Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
- Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL)
- Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
- Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
- Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI)
- Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
- Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA)
- Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
- Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
- Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
- Rep. James McGovern (D-MA)
- Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
- Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
- Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
- Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)
- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
- Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
- Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
- Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
- Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL)
- Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
Defenders of Children
- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
- Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
- Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
- Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
- Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA)
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
- Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
- Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
- Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
- Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)
- Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
- Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)
- Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
- Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA)
- Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)
- Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
- Rep. André Carson (D-IN)
- Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)
- Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
- Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA)
- Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
- Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
- Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)
- Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA)
- Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
- Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL)
- Rep. Gene Green (D-TX)
- Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
- Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX)
- Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
- Rep. John Katko (R-NY)
- Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA)
- Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)
- Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ)
- Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI)
- Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI)
- Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
- Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
- Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
- Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA)
- Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
- Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
- Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA)
- Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL)
- Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA)
- Rep. José Serrano (D-NY)
- Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL)
- Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)
- Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
- Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA)
- Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH)
- Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions.
First Focus Campaign for Children released its 2017 Champions Scorecard. In an attempt to recognize the lawmakers in the First Session of the 115th Congress who are actively working and trying to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy change, to improve the lives of our nation’s children through the policy process, we are pleased to present awards to 120 legislators who have made children a priority.
The 2017 Champions for Children Scorecard includes key votes on health-related bills and amendments to tax legislation, including two House votes on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, two Senate votes on child tax credit amendments, and four votes between the two chambers on the Affordable Care Act. Learn more and view the report at www.championsforchildren2017.com.
Thank legislators who put the needs of children over politics, and share this scorecard resource by using our social media kit.
We are writing to express our support for adequate funding for the U. S. Census Bureau in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 to provide for the fair, equitable and successful implementation of the decennial census so that young people do not go undercounted. As you know, the U.S. Constitution requires an accurate count of the nation’s population every ten years, yet unfortunately, the 2020 Census remains underfunded. We urge you to fund the U.S. Census Bureau at the level of at least $1.848 billion for FY’18 and at least $4.735 billion in FY’19.
Today, the President released his Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal, which flies in the face of last week’s Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA). The President’s budget violates the BBA’s crucial enactment of parity for non-defense and defense discretionary spending caps and makes draconian, nonsensical cuts to critical safety net programs. As a result, it exacerbates the trend of declining federal investment in our children, which reached an all-time low of just 7.75% of the total federal budget in 2017.
Rather than rectify this harmful pattern, the President’s budget creates a blueprint for an America that trivializes the needs of families and children.
With his $57 billion cut to the BBA’s $597 billion non-defense discretionary cap, the President abandons parity and ignores an obvious opportunity to reinvest in multiple children’s programs that have faced devastating cuts for years. In fact, this proposal shrinks and even eliminates key discretionary programs that benefit children. Reckless cuts of billions from K-12 education programs, not to mention the elimination of key child welfare funding streams via the Social Services and Community Services Block Grants and health supports like Emergency Medical Services for Children, represent just a few of the misplaced priorities shaping this budget request.
On the mandatory side of the ledger, the President has called for dramatic reductions in, and restructuring of, key safety net programs. The budget attacks everything from income support and housing assistance to affordable healthcare and nutrition, all but ensuring that our children will be poorer, without shelter, sicker, and hungrier.
It is no surprise that less than two months after passing a tax bill that exploded the federal deficit by $1 trillion over 10 years, the administration is at the same time attempting to slash hundreds of billions of dollars in mandatory programs that help struggling families get by.
The Administration’s claim that this budget represents a “clear commitment to a better future for all Americans,” does not reconcile with the havoc, if enacted, it would wreak on America’s children.