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CO Asked to Ponder Alternatives to the "Fiscal Cliff"

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Photo: Sister Simone Campbell speaks at a 'Nuns on the Bus' event in Colorado Springs. Courtesy Nuns on the Bus.
Photo: Sister Simone Campbell speaks at a 'Nuns on the Bus' event in Colorado Springs. Courtesy Nuns on the Bus.
November 14, 2012

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Broad cutbacks without additional revenue could send the nation back into a recession, according to a report issued today by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

The "fiscal cliff" is the combination of automatic program cutbacks and tax increases that kicks in Jan. 1 if Congress doesn't act.

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, is one of the "Nuns on the Bus," who are in Colorado this week asking lawmakers for "reasonable revenue for responsible programs." She says that means supporting social services and raising taxes on the top 2 percent of wage-earners.

"Let's be real. The folks that can afford to contribute should contribute. The ones who have benefited the most should contribute a little bit more."

The top 2 percent have seen their incomes increase by 120 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars during the past 30 years, Campbell says. In the same period, the middle class has seen a 7 percent increase, and the lowest 20 percent have seen their incomes drop by 7 percent.

Tax-policy analyst Ali Mickelson, who authored the report for CCLP, echoes the nuns' message and agrees that a balanced approach is key.

"We actually think a worse outcome would be a rushed, one-sided, cuts-only budget. So, that's why we're really encouraging Congress to look at the revenue side of things, too."

Campbell says the problem stems from 2000, when the government decided to eliminate its budget surplus through tax cuts - and then embarked on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We need to get our fiscal house in order, but it wasn't social services that created the problem."

A new poll by Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America's Future finds that a majority of Americans oppose cuts to social services and safety-net programs such as Medicaid and Social Security to balance the budget - and support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The poll results are online at ourfuture.org.

The CCLP report is at cclponline.org.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO