While Election Looms, Bipartisan Efforts Still Needed to Avoid the Fiscal Cliff

Closeup of hands shaking in front of American flagWith Election Day only weeks away and having just passed a temporary spending measure that averted a government shutdown from occurring at the end of this week, most members of Congress are on the campaign trail convincing voters like you to give them their vote. As we wait for election returns to come in, political junkies ask:

— What will the new Congress look like?
— Will President Obama be elected to a second term or will Governor Romney prevail?
— Will one party emerge the clear winner?
— Will we continue to have a split government, and if so, will either party emerge with the upper hand?

Impact of Planned Spending Cuts

Under the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last year, automatic spending cuts, slated to take effect in January 2013, threaten to drastically reduce key resources that support the efforts of local Goodwill® agencies in communities across the United States to help people who face employment challenges find jobs and advance in careers. Furthermore, efforts to protect funding for defense programs could double the size of these cuts.

These cuts have the potential to affect a wide range of services and programs such as law enforcement, education, medical research, child care, food safety, national parks, border security and safe air travel. At a time when unemployment stubbornly hovers at more than 8 percent, these automatic spending cuts also threaten core job training resources that help Goodwill do more to help people to find work.

These cuts stand to impact people like Robert Williamson, a U.S. Army veteran with a history of substance abuse. Troy was referred to Goodwill for help with gaining employment after he left his rehabilitation program. With a little help and encouragement, Troy got a job at Starbucks. But the story doesn’t end with Troy’s job placement. When a job for a business developer position opened at Goodwill, Troy was encouraged to apply and was hired. Since he started at Goodwill in 2009, Troy has been promoted twice and now manages the very Goodwill program that helped him.

Goodwill’s Focus This Election Season

While pundits will be spending the next few weeks combing through polling data to gain insight about the political dynamics that will affect decisions to be made over the next 2-4 years, Goodwill faces more immediate questions:

  • Will policymakers cut a deal to avoid deep automatic spending cuts from taking effect on January 2?
  • If so, will that deal squeeze vital domestic services and programs in order to limit potential cuts to defense spending?

Goodwill understands that the deficit is important, and reducing it presents significant challenges. Yet equally important are investments in integrated strategies that build upon and leverage existing resources. Goodwill believes that Congress must take bipartisan steps to reduce the deficit while avoiding harmful cuts to non-defense discretionary programs that support the efforts of community-based organizations, like Goodwill, that are working to help people get back on their feet.