Over the weekend, the House approved more than $60 billion in budget cuts from hundreds of federal programs. Unfortunately, some of these cuts threaten the health and survival of the world’s most vulnerable.
Setting a budget — and living within one’s means — is always difficult. But cutting back in areas of human health and basic survival borders on irresponsible. Rather than facing up to the hard choices (I mean, hello, Congress, you still think we should spend millions in taxpayer dollars on NASCAR?), they’re trying to put band-aids on the gaping wound of the U.S. deficit.
Poverty-fighting, cost-effective programs — which make up less than one percent of the US budget — were gutted. Programs that save lives by fighting AIDS, malaria and hunger were cut by 40%. Programs that promote long-term economic growth were cut up to 30%.
These cuts are more than just numbers. If approved by the Senate, these cuts will have a real impact on the men, women and children who need these programs to survive. The budget cuts to the Global Fund alone would keep 10 million malaria bed nets from being delivered to malaria prone communities, prevent 3.7 million people from getting tested for HIV and deny 400,000 new patients from getting life-saving anti-retroviral treatments.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote earlier this week, cuts of this size will be “devastating to our national security, will render us unable to respond to unanticipated disasters and will damage our leadership around the world.”
While it may be easy to think the errors of the House will be fixed in the Senate, there is a building pressure inside the Senate to let the cuts pass. With 23 Senators facing reelection in 2012, voting to restore these cuts can feel pretty risky.
So as the budget debate rolls off into the Senate, raise your voice and support the Senators who see the value of life-saving programs as key to American leadership and long-term national security.