Federal Cuts Hurting Disadvantaged Communities and Communities of Color

by Yvette Clarke (D-NY)/ 4.8.11


The beginning of the 112th Congress has laid the priorities of the Republican majority.  Instead of working in a bi-partisan way to fund the government and promote job creation, the majority, under the guise of deficit reduction, has proposed a series of short-term continuing resolutions that recklessly cut government programs and negatively impacting the middle class.  Regardless of how the cuts manifest themselves, the underlying pattern is clear; they (Republican majority) make these cuts as if they don’t know or don’t care how they will adversely affect our nation, particularly the middle class, aspiring middle class, our military service men and women, and disadvantaged communities.  As of this writing, this ideological war on the American people has led us to the verge of a government shutdown.


In February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the “Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011.”  Unfortunately this spending bill contained egregious spending cuts that would have not only cost 700,000 jobs, but seriously hinder minority entrepreneurs the access to capital needed to strengthen their small businesses.  It also limited access to affordable preventative health care.  Fortunately, the Democratic Majority in the Senate struck down this ill advised measure.


H.R. 1 included a $200 million cut from the Community Development Financial (CDFI) Fund which provides access to much needed capital to minority and women-owned small businesses around the country.  Had these cuts passed into law, it would cost our economy over 19,000 jobs; jobs in our communities that we cannot afford to lose.  As a member of the House Small Business Committee, I know that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the lifeblood for communities of color.  CDFI’s play a vital role in securing our minority and women-owned businesses, the very funds needed to create jobs and lead the rest of the world in innovation.


Also included in H.R. 1 was an amendment that would have eliminated Title X funding, severely limiting funding for Planned Parenthood.  Thousands of minorities rely on Planned Parenthood each year for basic preventative healthcare services such as lifesaving cancer screening, STI and HIV testing, birth control, and annual exams.  Planned Parenthood acts as a liaison between patients and specialized health professionals.  Fifteen percent of their patients are African-American women, many of whom are uninsured.  Programs like Medicaid and Title X allow these women to have access to basic healthcare and additional cuts will exacerbate racial health disparities.


It is evident that these series of continuing resolutions do nothing more than continue the assault on the middle class and communities of color across the nation.  Disadvantaged communities already experience health disparities caused by barriers to and within the healthcare system, including language, culture, income, and geography.  Many communities in the United States will be drastically affected by a government shutdown.  It is time for this Republican majority to move legislation forward to strengthen, not eliminate, the resources that support our communities, members of our military and small businesses.  All that would take is passing a responsible government spending bill.  I am confident that we can find a responsible solution to addressing our national debt and deficit without leaving disadvantaged communities behind.

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