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New Mexico Peers Over the Edge of the "Fiscal Cliff"

Photo: Sister Simone Campbell speaks at a 'Nuns on the Bus' event. Courtesy Nuns on the Bus.
Photo: Sister Simone Campbell speaks at a 'Nuns on the Bus' event. Courtesy Nuns on the Bus.
November 19, 2012

SANTA FE, N.M. - A new report cautions that broad expense cutbacks without additional revenue could send the country back into a recession. Jon Barela of the New Mexico Economic Development Department says going over the "fiscal cliff" would have a devastating effect on New Mexico's economy, costing the state 20,000 to 50,000 jobs. The "fiscal cliff" is the combination of automatic program cutbacks and tax increases that kicks in on January 1 if Congress does not act.

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

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

The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that the wealthiest top percentage of Americans saw their incomes increase by 275 percent from 1979 to 2007. In that same time period, middle-class income growth after taxes was just under 40-percent and the lowest-income households grew by just 18 percent.

Campbell traces the problem stems to 2000, when the government decided to eliminate its budget surplus through tax cuts and then embarked on 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 like Medicaid and Social Security to balance the budget. Instead, they support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

The poll results are available at www.ourfuture.org.

Renee Blake, Public News Service - NM