Press Our Senators on Budget Cuts

RPEC is collecting signatures on a letter to Virginia Senators John Warner and Tim Kaine. The letter is prompted by our observation that sequestration and other federal budget cuts are disproportionately hurting the poor and vulnerable in our community. (For more on the impact of sequestration on social programs in the state of Virginia, see the Page One article, “Sequester Knife Slashes Safety Net”)


The letter to the Senators reads:
“The current system of tax expenditures — through loopholes, credits, deductions and other benefits — disproportionately fa-vors the wealthy. The numerous tax exemptions in the tax code are also exorbitantly expensive, costing about $1.1 trillion a year. We urge you to support positive tax reform which increases taxes on the wealthy while protecting refundable tax credits for low-income earners. . . .
“The Pentagon budget, which has grown by about 50 percent in real terms in the last decade, is still projected to be higher ten years from now than it was during most of the Cold War and the Vietnam War. Our nation needs to find more savings in that area while also ensuring that we have appropriate transition assistance for communities that may be impacted by these changes.”


The letter urges both Senators to work actively, as they participate in Senate budget deliberations, to protect human needs and social safety net programs from cuts; raise revenues without harming low-income earners or the progressivity of the tax code; find Pentagon savings of at least $1 trillion over ten years; reinvest in programs to assist communities in tran-sition and to build new economic opportunities.


We will be sending a delegation to meet with the Senators or their high level staff later in the summer to present the letter and the list of en-dorsers.


We call on all RPEC members and supporters to sign the letter today. Individuals may endorse it here on our website.


We also encourage organizations — churches, synagogues, mosques, and agencies affected by budget cuts — to endorse. We are collecting hard-copy letters on letterhead from organizational endorsers. Many groups, including the Virginia Council on Churches, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Virginia Organizing, and First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, have already endorsed. Groups are welcome to print the letter on their own stationery, and mail them to the office. Contact if you have a letter for us, or need more information. Please sign on!


In our communications with the Senators, we will urge them to be proactive about assisting communities dependent on military spending to transition to other forms of economic activity.


Virginia would do well to pass legislation similar to a bill recently introduced in the Connecticut state legislature. That Connecticut bill would activate a commission to develop a strategy for increasing the number of manufacturing jobs in that state in such a way that diversifies or converts defense-related industries to other nonmilitary products, emphasizing environmentally sustainable and civilian manufacturing.


This sort of proactive and forward-looking approach to our over-reliance on defense-sector jobs is exactly what is needed by our state and the nation as we transition to an economy freer from war spending, but do so in a way that protects working people and communities