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December 13, 2012
Open Letter to the North Carolina Congressional Delegation from the North Carolina NAACP and Faith Leaders Regarding the "Fiscal Cliff"
Dear North Carolina Delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate:
As civil rights and moral leaders we first draw your attention to the sacred words of Scripture in this Holy Season from the words of the prophet Isaiah:
1Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
2 to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
3 What will you do on the day of reckoning,
When disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches?
Unless action is taken to avert it before then, the United States will be faced with what has become known as the "fiscal cliff" on January 2, 2013. Under this scenario, automatic, across-the-board spending cuts of about $109 billion per year are scheduled to take place: this means that almost every federal discretionary program will be facing a reduction in its budget of approximately 8.6%. Also, a number of tax cuts which were first enacted under President George W. Bush, and which affect all Americans from the wealthiest among us to those with little or no income, are set to expire as of December 31, 2012. Finally, the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which currently helps more than 5 million long-term unemployed Americans, will end as of December 31, 2012, unless it is reauthorized.
We the undersigned faith and civil rights leaders represent marginalized communities across the state of North Carolina. On their behalf, we ask each of you to avoid this devastating attack on poor people, working people, minorities, students, the elderly, women and the handicapped. Due to the disproportionate impact the fiscal cliff would have on the most vulnerable among us, the NAACP has consistently called on Congress and the Administration to put aside their partisan bickering and develop a balanced budget which makes the tax code more fair and does not do additional harm to the programs which serve us all, especially the most vulnerable among us.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has determined that if Congress and the President do not act, and America is allowed to fall off the "fiscal cliff," our nation will be slammed back into a recession with national unemployment levels reaching over 9% by the end of the year (unemployment rates for African Americans tend to be roughly double that of the national average at any given time). The funding cuts will affect both defense and non-defense programs; it is estimated that as many as 2 million Americans, including police officers, teachers, air traffic controllers, and civilian defense workers may lose their jobs as a result.
Other groups estimate that if none of the tax breaks are reauthorized, the average, middle class family making between $40,000 and $64,000 annually will be facing a $2,000 increase in their annual tax bill. And if the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is allowed to expire, more than 2 million Americans will lose their jobless benefits as of January 1, 2013, and another 1 million will lose them as of April 2013. It is fair to say that between the cuts in services, the tax increases, and the loss of unemployment benefits, no person, family, community, or business will not feel the effects if we fall off the "fiscal cliff."
It is clear that Congress and the Administration must work together over the next six weeks to develop a federal budget and avoid the potential devastation of the "fiscal cliff." This will most likely involve all aspects of the federal budget, including entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and Veterans’ benefits.
We further urge Congress to use this opportunity to focus on job creation and avoid any actions that would cost jobs; oppose benefit cuts for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; protect our nation’s safety net; and oppose any extension of the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President
North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP
Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly Coalition, Convener
Greenleaf Christian Church, Pastor
Rev. Dr. Cardes H. Brown, Jr,
NC NAACP Religious Affairs Committee, Chair
Greensboro Branch of the NAACP, President
New Light Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor
Rev. Jimmie Woodson
NC NAACP Religious Affairs Committee, Co-Chair
St. James Home of Fresh Start Church, Pastor
Rev. Dr. Howard Parker
General State Baptist Convention of NC, President
Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor
Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr.
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), Senior Bishop
Washington, DC and Charlotte, NC
Bishop George E. Battle, Jr.
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AME-Z), Bishop
Piedmont Episcopal District
Rev. Dr. Gregory Moss
Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention, President
St. Paul Baptist Church, Pastor
Rev. Rodney Sadler
Union Presbyterian Seminary, Professor
Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Associate Pastor
Rev. Philip R. Cousin, Jr.
St. Joseph AME Church, Pastor
Rev. Moses Goldmon
Prince Chapel CME Church, Pastor
Rev. Kojo Nantambu
Religious Education Advocacy Project of the NC NAACP, Director
Charlotte Branch of the NAACP, President
Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood
Historic Thousands on Jones Street Coalition Coordinator
North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP
Rev. Alfonso McGlenn
Bethel AME Church, Pastor