The Senate and House have now approved similar tax bills. There are several provisions within this legislation that could have a major impact on children and families.
CWLA is most concerned about the following:
- The Senate version of this legislation would undercut health insurance coverage. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 4 million people next year and 13 million people over the next ten years will lose health insurance. CWLA believes we need to expand access to substance use and mental health services—especially against a backdrop of increasing foster care numbers and increasing addiction to opioids.
- This bill makes it likely that human services programs will take the brunt of budget cuts that this bill will promote. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that, even counting the projected economic growth coming from tax cuts, the Senate bill would increase the deficit by $1 trillion over ten years.
- This will trigger across-the-board budget cuts that would eliminate funding for the vital Social Services Block Grant and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program, in addition to so many other vital programs. These funds are vital to child protection and prevention as well as family support that can prevent foster care placements. There have been assurances these cuts will be “waived,” but those promises come from leaders who feel we should now take up cuts to human services funding through “welfare reform” next year.
Cuts enacted through another reconciliation next year or automatic triggers this year will only weaken supports for families at the very time that they need more help. Congress has expressed concerns over the explosion in opioid addiction. We hope they follow these concerns with support for the increasing number of children in foster care—a direct result of such addictions.
This is no time to play games with federal budgets, which have undergone freezes and cuts for this entire decade. Congress must slow down and evaluate how children will be hurt by rushed legislation that will have an enormous impact on how we support children and families.